Web Culture

Did You Know: 5 Illegal Website Ideas For The United States

Justin Pot 15-12-2009

illegalNothing’s more American than speaking your mind, which is probably why freedom of speech has been enshrined throughout the nation’s history. This right to free speech is something almost all Americas agree on, regardless of political affiliation.


The Internet is freedom of speech’s ultimate incarnation – a place where anyone can start their own website and say whatever they want. It stands to reason then that Americans should be able to do whatever they like on the Internet…right?

Not entirely. There are limits to what you can do on the Internet, and even to what you can say. Here’s is a list of illegal websites that Americans are not allowed to found and operate.


Freedom of speech is not absolute in America – there are certain limits, perhaps the most famous of which is yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. This idea, first penned in Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the opinion for Schenck v. United States means that free speech does not give people the right to cause panic amongst the public for no good reason.

So if you want to start a website that regularly claims a terrorist is going to take out, say, Omaha Nebraska, expect to be arrested.


This limit to free speech has already been tested online: in 2006 a 20-year-old grocer living with his parents claimed he was going to blow up various football stadiums with dirty bombs. He was arrested, even though the FBI quickly found out he had no capability to carry out the actions in question.

So one thing you cannot do on the Internet is cause a widespread panic with a groundless threat.

Piracy Is Wrong

list of illegal websites

This one’s obvious enough, right? United States intellectual property law makes it illegal for Americans to host websites that offer access to intellectual property without permission from the copyright owners.


If you’ve ever used Bittorrent to download materials illegally – and I certainly haven’t, because I’m a law abiding American patriot who loves the flag and baseball and apple pie and Jesus – you probably noticed most of the public Bittorrent trackers are based overseas. There’s a good reason for this: American copyright law means any American-based torrent tracker can be sued by media and software companies.

So if you want to start a Bittorrent tracker – or any kind of file sharing site ““ in the United States of America, make sure everything being shared there complies with US copyright law. This doesn’t mean you can’t share cool stuff: Linux distributions and some public domain music, movies and books can all be distributed within the law. But expect to be shut down quickly if your users upload illegal content and you do nothing about it.

But from what I hear – and I have no way to confirm this personally because of my aforementioned love of the flag and baseball and apple pie and Jesus – there are lots of good Bittorrent trackers for the less-than-legal stuff hosted overseas but fully accessible to Americans.

Which brings us to an interesting point: the law of one country does not apply to content hosted in other countries. This is a common Internet loophole used to circumvent American law.


Gambling Is Only Moral Offline – In Certain Places.

list of illegal websites

There’s nothing illegal about gambling in the privacy of your own home with a few friends. If you want to run an online gambling business that pulls in millions of dollars weekly, however, expect to face some legal scrutiny.

Betting on sports on the Internet is banned nationwide, thanks to a United States Court of Appeals ruling back in 2002. Other sorts of online gambling are not banned federally, but most states have laws in place declaring such activities illegal in one way or another.

In the physical world gambling is only legal in certain areas from state to state. Native American reservations are frequently the sites of casinos because they are considered sovereign and as such exempt from state laws. Additionally, some states will allow gambling in certain areas – Las Vegas, Nevada is perhaps the most famous example of this, but many states have similar areas.


Online gambling is more complicated to regulate than in-person gambling, however, because while the website’s server may be in a region where gambling is legal the site’s patrons probably are not. It’s for this reason that such sites are usually shut down.

As with piracy, however, online gambling isn’t necessarily illegal overseas, and people in countries with differing laws are more than willing to capitalize. The Caymen Islands famously has no prohibition on online gambling, and a number of sites frequented (illegally) by Americans call that country home.

Child Pornography

In the United States any website that hosts child pornography is illegal and is liable to be shut down. Quickly. Sex with minors being an offense nationwide (not to mention completely disgusting), it’s easy to understand why documentation of such an act is illegal as well. I’m not going to delve into this further, because it is very unpleasant, but it’s an example of the sort of behavior not tolerated on the Internet.

Plotting Violence

list of illegal websites

As we mentioned above, threatening to plot violence without the means to do so is illegal in America because it’s not right to cause an undue panic. It shouldn’t be too surprising then to find out that it’s also illegal to threaten violence on the Internet if you actually do have the means to follow through.

That’s right: you’re not allowed to start your own Internet-based terrorist network. Sorry if I just ruined your plans for the holiday season.


There you have it: a short list of illegal websites that you can not start in the United States of America. While I’m certain few of you were planning on starting a website that hosted empty threats against America, gave access to copywritten material, allows people to gamble across state lines or build a terrorist network, it is very interesting to see the limits of freedoms online.

Do you think such limits are just, or should the Internet become a digital zone of anarchy? Let us know your views in the comments!

Image Credit : Hop-Frog, Juanjo Seixa

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  1. alex ferdman
    May 13, 2018 at 12:28 am

    Why not to start your article from stating fact of reality--US is dictatorship.

  2. abak
    February 18, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    I could not see Opec website today, on my phone nor on my computer and I have tried it several times, Is the OPEC website also banned?

  3. salar
    April 14, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    this article was very good and educational
    I'm Iranian and wanted to know which websites in usa are banned and not allowed to work so it was useful for me
    if these are only restrictions i think it's very good.but if political affiliation affect on banning opposition that would not be good.

  4. Allah
    February 6, 2015 at 6:24 am

    You can actually do all of this easy with a thing called TOR. Just don't use a regular datacenter or consolidated host like the idiots of silk road and pink meth did. I've been running a piracy and cp server in my basement for the past 10 years non stop.

    • Justin Pot
      February 6, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Good for you, I guess?

  5. european
    December 20, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Asking some difficult questions is also not allowed in America.

    What really happen in 9/11?
    Do you believe Binladen exists?
    Where is mass destruction weapon claimed to be in Iraq?

  6. vietvet52
    December 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

    piratebay is illegal,so it's not part of hollyrock ,

  7. chtrich
    December 16, 2009 at 9:05 am

    You can call it useless, but you all took the time to read it. lol

  8. Altzan
    December 16, 2009 at 6:13 am

    I for one do not think this article is useless - I see countless examples day by day of people who think they can do whatever they want on the internet. This is a healthy reminder that it is not so.

  9. Firea
    December 16, 2009 at 5:28 am

    Did you get the permission of 'THe Pirate Bay' to use their logo and screenshot of their site?

    • Jason
      December 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm

      Did you get the permission of ‘THe Pirate Bay’ to use their logo and screenshot of their site?


  10. Firea
    December 16, 2009 at 5:26 am

    This should top the 'Top 10 List of useless and completely time wasting lists of 2009'.

    “… American patriot who loves the flag and baseball and apple pie and Jesus”

    Bland flauting for no reason, adds no knowledge except that the author loves to blow his own trumpet.

    • Alize
      December 16, 2009 at 7:09 am

      I suppose the words "tongue in cheek" are lost on you.

  11. Gregor
    December 15, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    "... American patriot who loves the flag and baseball and apple pie and Jesus"

    lol, Jesus is dead!

  12. geeknik
    December 15, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    The author of this post is hereby named Captain Obvious.

    • Aibek
      December 15, 2009 at 10:09 pm

      I on the other hand found the post rather educational. For instance, I was always curious about the extent of a free speech on the net. While it seems obvious that sites causing a widespread panic purely on fictional facts should be banned there are tons of them around the web. Although think of website promoting of racial hatred, there are many of them as well.

  13. solid wood furniture
    December 15, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    There has been lots of pirates everywhere and it is making the industry's condition worse with all of those spreading. I hope they can produce rules and laws regarding these.

  14. bghinds
    December 15, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    IMHO there should be rules of behavior on the web, and most sites do have those. It is bad enough that there are hackers, virus creators and phishers that operate against the general "good" of web users. Rarely does anarchy ever lead to anything productive.

  15. Todd
    December 15, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I really don't see the point of this post. Most if not all these sites would be illegal in many countries so why the America bashing. Also you can have a website that spreads panic in the public for no good reason just check out http://www.foxnews.com and http://www.glenbeck.com. Really stupid and pointless article on an otherwise great site.