Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



Congressional Reps Question Feds Over Botched Domain Seizures

from the will-we-get-answers dept

The government's admission that it had (once again) mistakenly seized and censored a website for over a year when it dropped its case against Rojadirecta/Puerto80 has reminded everyone that Dajaz1 was not an isolate case. It was a part of a wider program where DHS (via ICE) and the DOJ systematically believed whatever the RIAA and MPAA were telling them, leading to the blatant censorship of a variety of websites, without proper due process. Thankfully, some in Congress are paying attention. Bipartisan Congressional Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Jason Chaffetz and Jared Polis have teamed up to send a letter raising a number of questions about Operation in Our Sites, to both Attorney General Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano.

The letter doesn't even mention the Rojadirecta case, but focuses on what happened with Dajaz1, pointing out their concern with the program, and how it appears to violate free speech rights, ignore due process and destroy legitimate businesses. The letter raises the fact that Dajaz1 is not an isolated case. As we've pointed out in the past, we're aware of at least a few other domains that were seized, and whose owners had challenged the seizures. And yet, well over a year later, there appeared to be no evidence of either a return of those domains or a forfeiture process started. Given how the feds treated Dajaz1, with secret extensions, preventing Dajaz1 from representing itself in court, we've wondered how many other domains the DOJ and ICE had incorrectly and illegally seized -- and which they were now keeping in that kind of holding pattern. It's good to see that this letter directly asks about that issue:
Other complaints have been raised by websites seized under "In Our Sites" that bear similarities to the Dajaz1 case. These complaints center around unnecessary delays in advancing and resolving cases, difficulty in obtaining documents from the government that are fundamental to the underlying cases (such as affidavits), and difficulty even maintaining contact with the U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the cases. The effect of these problems is to severely limit the ability of website owners to challenge the legality and merits of the domain name seizures.
The letter goes on to ask a series of important questions for both DHS and DOJ, especially regarding the utter failure of both departments in the Dajaz1 situation.
  1. What is the process for determining which sites to target? Who is involved in that process? What specific steps do DOJ and ICE take to ensure that affidavits and other material are thoroughly reviewed for accuracy prior to seizing a domain?
  2. To what extent are government agents required to evaluate whether the potentially infringing material to which target sites link -- or which they host themselves -- are non-infringing fair uses, impliedly licensed, and/or de minimis uses?
  3. Do government agents consider whether a site complies with the DMCA safe harbors? If so, how does this affect the determination to target a site?
  4. How many sites have attempted to retrieve their domains, via any process, judicial or informal, and what is the status of those cases?
  5. Have you made any changes to your domain seizure policies or their implementation as a result of the issues arising from the Dajaz1 seizure or any other seizure? If so, what were those changes?
  6. What specific steps has the DOJ and ICE taken to ensure that domain name seizure cases proceed without unnecessary delays, and that website owners seeking to restore their domain names have swift access to the officials and documents necessary to resolve their cases?
  7. How many more seizures do you anticipate occurring in the next six months and year?
It seems to me that questions four and five are the key ones here, which means I fully expect DOJ and ICE to be especially non-responsive in whatever answers they provide.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    Congress will be receiving an abundance of black rectangles amusingly covering entire pages, old and irrelevant information from ICE press releases, and "we can't comment on ongoing investigations".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    We regret to inform you that we can not answer your questions due to National Security Issues....

    What else would they say (assuming they bother to say anything at all)???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:14pm

    Outcome?

    A system (a new internet, if need be) will be devised where NO government is capable of seizing domains, period.

    Perhaps governments could still BLOCK them if in their own countries if they must (politics will settle that one). But seize them? Never!

    Governments are never non-partisan. In some countries, they are outrageously partisan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:15pm

    Re:

    They'd be better off pointing fingers at the judge because Congress isn't too keen on questioning the holy third branch. A judge approved the seizure and extensions when evidence was lacking. They should be held accountable too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    I'd say question #1 is pretty interesting too, seeing as "who is involved", involved RIAA in the Dajaz1 case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:21pm

    Expected response(s)

    1) "We regret to inform you that the information you are seeking cannot be disclosed due to national security reasons."

    2) "We regret to inform you that the information you are seeking does not exist."

    3) "We'll get back to you on that."

    4) "Unfortunately we are currently waiting for relevant information to be forwarded to us, but as soon as it is, we'll make sure to send you a copy."

    5) "Lemme talk to my boss, I'm sure with a little convincing he'll agree to give you what you're looking for, and at a good price."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    droozilla (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:24pm

    Napolitano's a crook. Thief, gun runner, hacker.

    Hopefully she, and her lapdog Holder, are held accountable, then tarred & feathered.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Expected response(s)

    "Due to issues of national security, we can at this time neither confirm nor deny the existence of the requested information."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    GMacGuffin (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:28pm

    God ICE burns me up...

    I won't get angry all over again. I won't get angry all over again. I won't get angry all over again. I won't get angry all over again. I won't get angry all over again. Must... find ... Zen...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Outcome?

    some? u mean all

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    fuck this shit, sorry but proper processes required and they are not doing it

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    And what in the end will happen ?
    Probably not much.I have no trust in this Government and my Approval of their Actions is pretty close to ZERO.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 3:03pm

    So congress is asking two that have proven to have serious moral issues what their stances and reasons are? PLUEZE...

    Just as well go ask a pedophile if he diddles kids. Straight forward answers aren't in the cards. Anymore than ICE has been straight forward in these seizure cases.

    The whole thing is typical of government actions in these days and times. It's not what the law says...it's what we think we can stretch it to say. As long as we don't tell you what that is, we're good.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Expected response(s)

    Bah, just realized that the numbering makes it seem like those are answers to individual questions, and not to the overall questioning itself as I'd intended.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    Seriously? These are the same three reps who always criticize copyright enforcement efforts. This is as much news as "dog bites man."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    Re:

    It's the Larry, Moe and Curly of the anti-copyright movement

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 3:57pm

    Re:

    ...who always criticize bad copyright enforcement efforts.

    You missed a word there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 4:06pm

    "...who always criticize bad copyright enforcement efforts."

    You missed a word there.


    Sorry, which enforcement effort have they not criticized.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 4:29pm

    Re:

    If all copyright enforcement efforts so far have sucked it's really not anyone's fault but the originators, isn't it?

    I mean, just look at it. Unverified investigation methodologies, insufficient evidence, over-the-top takedowns, blatant disregard for collateral damage - what's NOT to criticise?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 4:34pm

    Re:

    ah, the infamous secret interpretation ploy

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Voice Of Reason, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 4:44pm

    Not Censorship!

    This isn't censorship, this is the RIAAs hired guns destroying new business models that The RIAA can't compete with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Aklyon (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 5:01pm

    Re:

    If they are criticizing all of them, and there is a chance for them to be all bad, then the people enforcing those enforcement efforts are doing it wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 5:30pm

    There's a major problem in the US concerning domain seizures and obviously everyone in IT knows this. EFF link Now I'm trying to preach, but this is imho greatly effecting DNSSEC implementation which is rather low for .com and .net TLDs: ICANN link. The reasons could be debatable, but I'm rather certain about every registrar is offering DNSSEC, but the customers are not using them. In fact even techdirt.com doesn't run a DNSSEC record. I'm sure though if you contacted ActionWeb they would provide you a key.
    The effects of this are rather simple, since fear drives people away from implementing security, the real threats continue. In other words, we are sacrificing simple copyright infringement with gross embezzlement by organizations that impersonating financial accounts. This sadly however is a global problem, since DHS/ICE is not only endangering US citizens but everyone on the web.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Not Censorship!

    Oh, they can compete with it easily... they just choose not to. :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 8:46pm

    Oh, they can compete with it easily... they just choose not to. :(


    Yup, that's why their operating budgets are seriously down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Amongst you freeloaders, all copyright enforcement is bad. You will never accept any copyright enforcement under any circumstances. That's how extremists roll and that's why you get private industry agreements instead. The opportunity for a reasonable discussion culminating in copyright enforcement with some elements of judicial oversight and due process are out the window and instead you are going to get the private sector's version instead. And the Republicans aren't going to help you. Have you seen their IP platform? They want to hand over the Internet to the private sector. Bye-bye net neutrality. Hello to tiered pricing, throttling, deep packet inspection, six strikes, search engine demoting, payment processor and ad network cut offs. Then before long VPN's will come under attack by requiring some sort of justification or licensure like concealed weapons. The same sort of roadblocks will take place with encryption. Both in the name of "network security" and/or national security. The stupid, ill-considered, visceral reaction of a bunch of misguided zealots is going to culminate in getting the exact opposite result. And Google and your other "friends" have already sold you out. They want to play in the content space because it is their future too. And they are steadily moving to embrace the content producer's outlook. How is consigning infringing sites to Google-oblivian materially differ from the SOPA proposal to delist them entirely? What difference is there for the top three pirate sites from going from the front page to being randomly sprinkled on pages 43, 68 and 106 and being removed entirely? Damn little to none. The only real difference is now it's done without any judicial oversight, only some obscure formula involving DMCA notices. Net neutrality is on practical life support. If the republicans hold their ground or make inroads, Julius Genachowski's testicles will be in a jar on Boehner's desk and net neutrality will be a fading memory. Comcast owns NBC/U and produces tons of content. In a world of decreased regulation, how long do you think it will be before they decide that ANY infringing streaming is a network management issue and throttle it down to dial-up speed? ATT and Verizon will ultimately become bigger players in content and embrace the same mindset. You really have no idea where this is headed and how much the mindless, unyielding position has contributed to a situation that will prove far worse than it needed to be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2012 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    *than* being removed entirely..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 9:28pm

    Re:

    Sorry, which enforcement effort have they not criticized.


    I don't see them criticizing all sorts of enforcement. Between the three of them I've only seen two criticisms raised: SOPA and Dajaz1. Certainly Lofgren, by herself, has raised a few other issues, but there are lots of enforcement efforts that she sees as just fine.

    To claim that the 3 of them criticize every enforcement effort is ridiculous and wrong.

    I guess when you have no argument, you resort to lying, huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Aug 31st, 2012 @ 10:51pm

    Re: God ICE burns me up...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 1:51am

    as long as the Bipartisan Congressional Reps dont expect to get any answers, i am sure they can ask as many questions as they like. you only have to look at the responses NOT received from Attorney General Holder when asked questions by Lofgren in the past. if they expect anything better from him or from Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, i think they are living in fantasy land. everyone knows that the US law enforcement can do what they like, that Congress are not in charge of any of the agencies, they are all run by the entertainment industries. look again at the 'revolving door' between the government positions previously held by those now employed in those industries

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Sep 1st, 2012 @ 3:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's how extremists roll and that's why you get private industry agreements instead.

    Which won't stop piracy either. Care to try again?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 1st, 2012 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "That's how extremists roll and that's why you get private industry agreements instead."

    And that is why there are supposed to be anti-trust lawsuits filed to stop these damn things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And that is why there are supposed to be anti-trust lawsuits filed to stop these damn things.

    That would mean that infringers would have to come before the US judicial system to litigate. That means they would then be served by every single company for copyright infringement and in some cases arrested. Do you really think that will happen?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 6:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "That's how extremists roll and that's why you get private industry agreements instead."

    Which won't stop piracy either. Care to try again?

    So if these efforts are a waste of time, there's an awful lot of crying and contrived outrage over ineffective measures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 6:19am

    Re: Re:

    Sorry shillboy before I respond, can you clarify whether this is your position or Google's? Thanks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And if you are expecting the DoJ to file an anti-trust suit over anti-piracy measures, you are completely delusional.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Lucky we have people worrying about the side-effects of mercantile-only interests that are the natural allies of implementing and enforcing the means of global censorship...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    you first mr. anonymous coward bully. got sumfin to hide ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2012 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How's that working out for you with the industry agreements?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    GMacGuffin (profile), Sep 1st, 2012 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: God ICE burns me up...

    Sweeeet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2012 @ 12:16am

    3 out of, what, 500+ in the house? Perhaps you should name them in the title rather than suggesting the whole house is asking for something (when it is most clearly NOT doing it).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2012 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Then we already know your answer. Thanks for playing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 2nd, 2012 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2012 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How cute!! +1 head pat from the Google Shill-In-Chief

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2012 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're getting checks?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2012 @ 10:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You're so certain that he works for Google, yet offer no proof at all of this. How about you disclose your own name and affiliations for all the community to see?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Sep 4th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    Why at all?

    These are certainly good questions to ask, but I'd rather they first ask why the Government is seizing domain names and if they are allowed to do so. I've made this comparison before, but I liken it to seizing the name of a printed newspaper, but leaving all the writers, presses, and delivery trucks alone. In effect making the paper unrecognizable to its readers on the newsstand, not preventing some accused criminal from destroying or selling evidence. This is plainly an effort to silence the accused without hearing not an action to collect or preserve evidence for a coming legal action.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 4th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So if these efforts are a waste of time, there's an awful lot of crying and contrived outrage over ineffective measures.


    Of course. What you're missing is that the objection to these measures isn't really about the impact they may or may not have on piracy. The objection is the collateral damage they do to innocent third parties.

    That the measures won't be effective against piracy in no way means they won't be harmful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This