What Other Websites Is The US Government Secretly Censoring?

from the questions-to-be-answered dept

We're still trying to understand the overall fallout from last week's news that the feds seized and censored the music blog Dajaz1.com for over a year and blocked every chance for the site to get its day in court... before finally giving up and just handing back the site. And while lots of people have focused on that story, it seems worth asking what about the others? Back in June, we released a list of five domains whose owners had asked the government to return them. Two of them, rojadirecta.org and rojadirecta.com, have been involved in a lawsuit. The government sought to forfeit those two domains (i.e., get to keep them permanently) -- but did so only after rojadirecta's company, Puerto 80, filed a lawsuit officially demanding the return of the domains.

As far as we know, the other three sites all followed a slightly different process, which involved them officially petitioning the government to return the domains -- at which point the government has 90 days to either begin forfeiture procedures or to hand back the domain. That was in early June. As we know, with Dajaz1, the government had already begun getting a series of totally secret (indeed, we have no idea if they really exist) "extensions" from the court to allow them to hang onto the domain much longer without actually facing them in court over a forfeiture process. With Dajaz1, the government finally gave up and gave the domain back.

But there are still two domains unaccounted for: OnSmash.com and Torrent-Finder.com. Again, the list we posted back in June was an official list from DHS/ICE noting sites who had asked for the return of their domain. Even if we assume that such requests were made on June 13th (and they were all made significantly earlier), those domains either should have been returned or forfeiture proceedings started by mid-September at the latest. But we're in December, and as far as we can tell, no such procedures are under way.

That leaves two options: OnSmash and Torrent-Finder rescinded their demands for the return of their domains... or they're currently in the midst of the same Kafka-esque government-run secret censorship program. And, for all we know, there may be other sites as well.

So it seems like Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department (as well as the folks at ICE) have some explaining to do. Who else are they censoring without due process? How many other sites had speech seized and are being denied their day in court? Just how deep does this program of the federal government censoring online websites go?

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2011 @ 11:24am

    Politician: The word censorship gets thrown around a lot these days...we will soon fix that.

    Headline the next day: ICE Shuts Down All Websites That Contain The Word "Censorship". Claims Victory In War Against Censorship.

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