ICE Propaganda Film Pats Itself On The Back For Censoring The Web; Promises Much More To Come

from the walk-and-talk-john dept

Homeland Security's ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) group has put out a slickly produced video patting itself on the back for all of its work censoring the web in 2011, and promising much more of that kind of thing in the future:
It stars ICE Director John Morton, reprising his usual ridiculous refrain in which he conflates actual counterfeit goods with copyright infringement. But this time, he shows off his ability to stroll quickly through a warehouse while doing a walk-and-talk. I have to admit that it feels like a parody video most of the time. He kicks it off with a claim that he's explaining how to "steal an American job." Then he claims, "here's how to save an American job: IPR enforcement!"

He's wrong. First of all, the "job loss" from counterfeits is totally and completely exaggerated. As has been shown by multiple studies, most people buying counterfeits (hell, and downloading infringing works) wouldn't have bought the real thing instead. They know they're buying a fake good. So no "job" is lost there. And, as the government's own GAO noted last year, the idea that this all leads to lost jobs simply isn't supported by the data.

Second, enforcement does not "save jobs." It does put massive burdens on legitimate sites. Something Morton should know about since he's been taking down legitimate American sites with no legal basis for quite some time.

But before we get to that, he shows off some counterfeit products. There's a handbag, some fake drugs (they always have to show the fake drugs, despite it being a tiny issue, but they have to show some sort of "danger"). And then there's a video game mod chip. He says it "allows you to hack into video games and steal the game for free. That's illegal. That's IP theft." Of course, it's debatable if mod-chips are really illegal. They have substantial non-infringing purposes other than "hacking into video games to steal them for free" (do people steal stuff not for free?). But, you know, that's ICE under John Morton: declaring it illegal for you to modify products you legally purchased, like your gaming console. Thanks, US government!

Then we get to website censorship. And boy is he proud of that. You can see him gleaming as he says that ICE has "done a phenomenal job" and "every time they make a bust, every time they make an arrest, an American job is saved."

So, I wonder, can John Morton explain whose job was saved when his staffers incorrectly seized and censored Dajaz1.com for over a year? I'm curious. Because it sure seems like he actually hurt the ability of the Americans who run that site to make money. I'm curious whose job was saved when his staff deported a missing teen to Colombia (where she was not from). Is that the kind of "phenomenal" work under John Morton we should expect more of?

He then shows off "the news coverage" that ICE has gotten for seizing websites. Notice that he leaves out the stories about the mistaken seizure of multiple websites beyond Dajaz1. Like the seizure of 84,000 legitimate sites that were replaced with a statement claiming that they were all involved in child porn. Somehow those clips just didn't make the cut. Phenomenal work "saving American jobs!"

Morton goes on to talk up how "proud of the results" he is over the seizing of websites. Once again, no mention of the ones he seized by mistake, causing tremendous harm to those who he falsely declared as criminals. What's amazing is that he's never issued an apology over those false seizures. Instead, he's "proud of the phenomenal job" his team has done? What a joke.

Finally, he highlights the PSA that ICE put on the websites they forfeited. What he leaves out, of course, is that the PSA was both created by and owned by NBC Universal -- something ICE has never publicly admitted, but which we found out via FOIA requests. It's still shocking that a government agency would be using misleading propaganda from a private company and pretending that it's an official government production. Even worse, despite numerous requests, ICE has failed to show any proof that it properly licensed the video from NBC Universal, leading us to wonder if they "pirated" it.

ICE under John Morton has become a massive joke and a disgrace to American ideals of innocent until proven guilty and important things like free speech and due process. Rather than making this joke of a video (which certainly has Hollywood-style production... I wonder how that happened...), Morton should be issuing apologies for the mistakes that were made under his watch, and tendering his resignation. Instead, he's celebrating? Sickening.

Filed Under: censorship, counterfeiting, domains, homeland security, ice, john morton, operation in our sites


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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Jan 2012 @ 4:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The USG went to court and secured a court order authorizing seizure of the site.

    Ok. Let's try this again, for those who can't comprehend basic math:

    1. USG secured a court order which had specific rules to it.
    2. Among those rules: if the property owners requests return of the property, that property MUST be returned within a 185 days or a case for forfeiture must be filed.
    3. Neither of those things happened.

    Due process was absolutely denied. And since this involved a blog with tons of non-infringing speech, it was clearly censorship as well. This isn't even debatable at this point.

    My question is "Did Dajaz1, through its counsel, go to the court that issued the order and request that the seized property be returned?" Nowhere is this question answered, and it is a pretty important one at that.

    You've asked this question at least 4 times, and I've answered it each and every time. Why you continue to pretend it hasn't been answered is something that perhaps only you understand.

    dajaz1 followed the exact procedure prescribed under the seizure and forfeiture law. You know who did not? The USG.

    Courts issue order all the time, and parties effected by such orders file motions challenging the orders. What makes Dajaz1 any different since the same procedural rules of law apply?

    Must we do this again. DO THE MATH. Dajaz1 did exactly what the procedures state -- and under that law one of two things HAD to happen by day 185: domain returned or forfeiture begun. Which one of those two things happened? That's right! Neither.

    Look, dude, just admit that you're totally full of shit. It would make life easier for everyone.

    All you know is what is attributed to its attorney in a news article (i.e., hearsay).

    False. I know the gov't had 185 days to return the domain. I have confirmation FROM ICE & confirmed by a US Senator, that Dajaz1 followed the proper procedure for asking for the domain to be returned -- at which point it NEEDED to be returned by 185 days, or forfeiture procedures begun. I also know -- CONFIRMED BY DOJ -- that no such procedure was started, and the domain was not returned for over 380 days.

    Care to admit that you are FULL OF SHIT yet?

    I have spoken to tons of people related to this case, including representatives of the US government. What I know is not hearsay. What I know is you are full of shit. Yet, in your desperation to believe that the government didn't totally fuck up here, you have put such incredible blinders on that you look like a ridiculous and completely clueless moron.

    No wonder you don't put your name on shit any more.

    You seem inclined to accept the information in the news article as the gospel truth

    No. I know what happened.

    Want to admit that you are completely full of shit yet?

    You have many intelligent things to say, but in this matter there is a logic fail that falls short of the mark.

    You would make me laugh if you weren't so completely full of shit.

    Seriously: you're so completely wrong on this it's not even funny. Stop digging. Admit that you are 100% completely full of shit and let's move on. If you choose not to do so, please be aware that I will highlight your full of shitness at every opportunity from here on in. Because, honestly, I can handle the lobbyists and whatnot who speak here and say ridiculous stuff. They're just kind of funny. But you come here every day -- with the most pretentious attitude while still being so totally full of shit. You never back up your statements. You just say stupid shit like "it might help to read the bill." Yet when called to respond to those who actually quote the language, you chicken out.

    Because you are full of shit.

    Same thing here. You insist it wasn't censored and due process was followed. You are wrong.

    You insist my statements are based on hearsay from an article. You are wrong.

    You are full of shit.


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