Here We Go Again: Operation In Our Sites Round 4 Kicks Off With More Domains Illegally Seized

from the ice:-where-free-speech-is-for-suckers dept

It had been a while since Homeland Security's ICE group stomped on anyone's free speech and due process rights, so it seems they had to just run out and illegally seize a bunch more websites this weekend, once again without any notice or adversarial hearings as required by the Constitution and the case law on the matter. What's truly bizarre is that the folks at ICE are fully aware that these actions are unconstitutional and they are still moving forward with them. Having spoken to numerous people involved on all sides of these seizures (more on that soon), the picture that's becoming clear is that many of the ICE agents are uncomfortable with these seizure procedures, feeling (as many of us have suggested) that their considerable resources and time should be focused on stopping actual crimes, not people putting up blogs and forums online. At the same time, there is tremendous pressure from the top, driven by an almost fever pitch of lobbying efforts by the RIAA and MPAA to shut down parts of the internet that they can't figure out how to compete with.

TorrentFreak is keeping a list of the seized domains for now, and once again, it appears to be a mix of linking sites and some that are involved in trademark infringement. In fact, some of the sites seem to just link to other streaming sites. This seems incredibly problematic, in that they seem to involve a gross expansion of what the law actually says concerning indirect infringement and criminal liability. But, even if you could read the law in the extreme manner suggested by ICE and the Justice Department, it doesn't change the fact that these seizures are improper under the Constitution. It's pretty sad, because Homeland Security and the Justice Department are supposed to be about defending the Constitution, not ignoring it.

Filed Under: copyright, domain seizures, due process, free speech, homeland security, ice, operation in our sites

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  1. icon
    Joseph Kranak (profile), 23 May 2011 @ 9:30am

    The constitutional

    Though I agree that the seizures aren't constitutional, I think that ICE could make an argument based on civil forfeiture. This only comes to mind because Don Bordreaux wrote about the awful supreme court decision in Bennis v. Michigan this weekend. In short, ICE could claim that the web domain is a property, and that property has committed a crime (by linking to piracy) and therefore can be seized. It's then up to the owner to prove that it wasn't used in a crime (guilty until proven innocent). Since the supreme court has upheld civil forfeiture as not violating the fourth ammendment, then they might in this case. Now, I'm hoping no one in ICE is reading this because I don't want to give them any ideas. It's just that attorneys can be very creative in crafting legal arguments and courts very permissive in accepting these arguments when they want to find justification for denying something that they just don't like. So, if you find judges that simply don't like piracy and you come up with a coherent argument, they might be prone to buy it without too much critical thought (at least that's the only way I can explain the supreme courts bad decisions in the past).

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