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Rep. Lofgren Again Explains How And Why Domain Seizures Violate The Law

from the and-another-lawyer dept

We had just pointed to a lawyer explaining why the domain seizures by the government were likely to be unconstitutional. That was in response to some of our commenters who insist that anyone who actually understands the law would clearly see that such seizures are perfectly fine. Well, here's another lawyer who disagrees -- and she also happens to be a Congressional Representative, Zoe Lofgren. Obviously, we've covered her basic concerns with these seizures, and now she's done an interview with Ars Technica, where she goes into much more detail. She notes that this appears to be outside of ICE's mandate. That the reasons behind the seizures were too broad (such as in the seizure of Torrent-Finder, a search engine, which suggests the government could just seize Google if it wanted to).

Lofgren correctly points out that falling back on the legality of seizures for things like drugs does not apply, because this is a First Amendment issue, and then points out that it appears to be prior restraint:
Ars: So how did these seizures differ from, say, narcotics seizures in which some of the same issues about a non-adversarial hearing apply?

Rep. Lofgren: You're never going to have a free speech issue when it comes to a pile of cocaine.

Ars: The recording industry also objected to the First Amendment concerns you raised, saying that the First Amendment is "not a shield for illegal behavior."

Rep. Lofgren: They completely missed the point, and I would think intentionally so. This is prior restraint of speech, and you can't do that in America.
Nice to see yet another "lawyer" speaking out about this, and especially nice that it happens to be someone in Congress, who can hopefully get more attention on this concerning subject.

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  1. icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), 15 Mar 2011 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    The government could seize Google if it wanted to. ICE and the DHS are operating with what appears to be no oversight.

    I can find "illegal" content with any search engine. It may be less streamlined than a torrent-only engine, but it will still find content, whether it's at Rapidshare or Mediafire or wherever.

    We already know various news companies are irritated that Google aggregates news and links to their sites. And if they've already seized domains just for having links to infringing material, how does a search result differ? It's all links.

    Oh, but it's so tenuous, I hear you complain. And the person has to actually search for the infringing content. You have to perform your own searches at a torrent-specific engine and follow the links. Just because the word "torrent" isn't present in the word "google" doesn't mean they both do pretty much the same thing.

    And, if nothing else, the US government and the major movie/music industries have proven already that they're willing to move on even tenuous connections.

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