Skip to comments.Senator Wyden Asks WTF Is Up With Homeland Security Domain Seizures
Posted on 02/03/2011 2:02:33 PM PST by Smogger
Following on from news of the third phase of piracy and counterfeit related domain seizures in 7 months, US Senator Ron Wyden has asked the director of Homeland Securitys Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to clarify some of the most pressing questions. If the domain seizures are to continue, the Obama administration has to be more open about the need for them and the process involved, he argues.
Earlier this week we broke the news that US authorities had started a third round of domain seizures. This time, it turned out that the actions were aimed at sports streaming sites. In total, 10 domain names belonging to 6 websites were handed over to the authorities.
As with previous seizures, the actions of the authorities were met with disbelief by the sites owners and their millions of visitors. The owner of Rojadirecta, one of the affected sites, questioned the legitimacy of the seizure since his site has twice been declared legal in Spain. In addition, many further questions were raised.
Today, we learned a little bit more about the justifications for the Super Bowl Crackdown after we obtained the affidavit that ICE agent Daniel Brazier sent to the US District Court. However, the request for a seizure warrant is very generic and leaves many questions unanswered.
Luckily, were not the only ones who want to find out more about the lack of due process and the need for domain seizures that comply with the DMCA. US Senator Ron Wyden asks the same questions.
In a letter addressed to ICE director John Morton he voiced his concerns, stating that the seizures are alarmingly unprecedented and that they could stifle constitutionally protected speech. In addition, Senator Wyden asks the following.
1. How does ICE and DoJ measure the effectiveness of Operation In our Sites and domain seizures more broadly how does the government measure the benefits and costs of seizing domain names?
2. Of the nearly 100 domain names seized by the Obama Administration over the last 9 months, how many prosecutions were initiated, how many indictments obtained, and how were the operators of these domain names provided due process?
3. What is the process for selecting a domain name for seizure and, specifically, what criteria are used?
a. Does the Administration make any distinction between domain names that are operated overseas and those that are operated in the U.S.
b. Does the Administration consider whether a domain name operated overseas is in compliance with the domestic law from which the domain name is operated?
c. What standard does the Administration use to ensure that domains are not seized that also facilitate legitimate speech?
d. What standards does ICE use to ensure that it does not seize the domain names of websites the legal status of which could be subject to legitimate debate in a U.S. court of law; how does ICE ensure that seizures target on the true bad actors?
4. Does the Administration believe that hyperlinks to domain names that offer downloadable infringing content represent a distribution of infringing content, or do they represent speech?
5. Does the Administration believe that websites that facilitate discussion about where to find infringing content on the Internet represents speech or the distribution of infringed content? What if the discussion on these websites includes hyperlinks to websites that offer downloadable, infringing content?
6. What standard does DoJ expect foreign countries to use when determining whether to seize a domain name controlled in the U.S. for copyright infringement?
7. Did DoJ and ICE take into account the legality of Rojadirecta.org before it seized its domain name? If so, did DoJ and ICE consult with the Department of State or the United States Trade Representative before seizing this site in order to consider how doing so is consistent with U.S. foreign policy and commercial objectives
8. In an affidavit written by Special Agent Andrew Reynolds, he uses his ability to download four specific songs on the domain name dajaz1.com as justification for seizure of this domain name. According to press accounts, the songs in question were legally provided to the operator of the domain name for the purpose of distribution. Please explain the Administrations justification for continued seizure of this domain name and its rationale for not providing this domain name operator, and others, due process.
9. Can you please provide to me a list of all the domain names seized by the Obama Administration since January of 2009 and provide the basis for their seizure?
10. Do ICE and DoJ keep a record of who meets with federal law enforcement about particular domain names? If not, would you consider keeping such a record and making it publicly available, to ensure transparency in government and that Operation in our Sites is not used to create competitive advantages in the marketplace?
The three stooges look like geniuses compared to this bunch.
Great, but the real concern is when it hits the fan, where will Shep get his lipstick?
I’m a bit confused on one point: What bearing does IP enforcement have on homeland security? Are we worried that Al Qaeda is pirating DVDs?
I may not like how they went about it, but I applaud the move to shut down those sites. They were pirating sports and television feeds, stealing...no other way to put it.
Issa is in the House, not the Senate.
A free American people don't need no steekin permit to protest our government.
I think the major league sports leagues are preparing for paid streaming video services over the internet. If I recall correctly, Major League Baseball already has a subscription service to watch any game live for a full season at quite a reasonable price. So I expect that’s where this is going and probably within two years you’ll be able to watch all NFL games with relatively low-quality video on your computer at a low cost on NFL.com. I think they’ll keep the video resolution at a low level so as not to compete directly with HD video on the networks and by subscription from DirecTV.
I think that’s what this is all about: protecting the future revenue of sports leagues from streaming video. But you have to wonder what’s next. As far as I know, sports bars have been picking up satellite broadcasts of major league sports for decades without paying a dime to anyone. Is DHS going to show up at your local sports bar and shut the place down for illegally using satellite dishes to pick up all the games on Sunday? This is starting to go too far. There are enough laws on the federal books to make everyone in America a law-breaker of some kind. DHS has to use sound judgement about which laws really need to be actively enforced.
I agree. "Due process" has become only words on a piece of paper. These fascists are running ramshod over our rights and liberties. Now Lieberman and Obama want to be able to shutdown the internet when they deem it necessary just like Mubarak did in Egypt.
More power to them! Here is to hoping they far outnumber the “policing” feds.
11. Why does ICE and DOJ consider this a more important priority for their time and resources than catching the illegals streaming across the border?
I happen to be in the TV sports programming business. If they were stealing from your business, I don’t think you would feel the same way.
Stealing is stealing.
Does the NFL have a pay for view site to watch the Super Bowl?
Explain to me how streaming sports video sites are a danger to homeland security?
“We needed another national security agency to protect us from websites that stream sports events?”
I guess copyright infringement = terrorism.
Which is not that far from criticizing economic/monetary policy = terrorism.
Or from subversive speech = terrorism.
A misnomer if there ever was one.
I think you’re right. Meantime 60,000+ real terrorists set up shop throughout the land.
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