DHS SHUTS DOWN 75+ WEBSITES FOR “COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 28, 2010) — Several reports issued over the last several days have stated that the Department of Homeland Security has shut down 75 or 76 websites with the explanation: “This domain name has been seized by ICE – Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 2323.”
What purview does DHS have over the internet, and what type of risk did these websites pose? One source stated that ICE authorities “executed court-ordered seizure warrants” against the websites and cited “an ongoing investigation” into the sites’ activities.
All of the sources agreed that one of the sites which was seized and shut down was a search engine which did not display copyrighted information, but rather, provided links to portals which did. Linking to its url now results in the display of the graphic pictured above.
A report from Natural News states that “As part of a new expansion of government power over information, the Department of Homeland Security has begun seizing and shutting down internet websites (web domains) without due process or a proper trial.”
One source states that the seizure of the domain names and closing of the websites is authorized by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) signed into law by President Clinton in 1998. Page 6 of a summary of the law explains the responsibilities of “contracting parties” to provide “legal remedies against any person knowingly performing any of the following acts” which include copying and distributing copyrighted material without permission. Page 7 makes a reference to a “Section 1202” which “is subject to a general exemption for law enforcement, intelligence and other governmental activities.”
The entire bill can be read here.
The Department of Homeland Security’s website has a tab for “Cybersecurity” and, when selected, claims that DHS “plays an important role in countering these threats. We’re building one of the best teams anywhere to keep our federal civilian networks secure, and secure the cyberspace and critical infrastructure on which we all depend. That means working across the federal government, partnering with the private sector, and empowering the general public to create a safe, secure, and resilient cyber environment, and promote cybersecurity knowledge and innovation.”
DHS designated October as “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.”
A report entitled “The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative” claims that Obama “has identified cybersecurity as one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation, but one that we as a government or as a country are not adequately prepared to counter.” The second paragraph of the paper concludes with “Finally, the President directed that these activities be conducted in a way that is consistent with ensuring the privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and cherished by all Americans.”
Editor’s Note: The Post & Email does not believe that Obama is a legitimate president.
Paragraph 4 of page 2 states that Obama’s “Cybersecurity Coordinator” had approved the release of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) launched by President George W. Bush in 2008 so as to support Obama’s “declared intent to make transparency a touchstone of his presidency.”
CNCI Initiative #1 states that a project entitled Trusted Internet Connections is led by the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget.
Initiative #8 discusses an expanded role of the federal government to include those who are “cyber-savvy” and makes the argument for implementing “an effective pipeline of future employees.”
On page 5, “Initiative #11” makes reference to a “globalized supply chain” as well as “threats” and “vulnerabilities,” but it does not spell out exactly what those threats might be.
The New York Times reported that the websites were closed due to a “piracy crackdown” and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The article stated that the websites which had been seized “either hosted unauthorized copies of films and music or allowed users to search for them elsewhere on the Internet.”
A report from last July indicated that at least one of the websites might have known that it was under scrutiny by the federal government for copyright infringement under the program name “Operation in our Sites.” However, currently a link to the site explaining the program yields an error message. So did a link to the ICE “IPR Fact Sheet.”
ICE’s top stories of the week ending November 26 were regarding the arrest of sex offenders, illegal aliens and a ship full of marijuana from a ship which had come from the Caribbean to Mississippi. It also played a role in discovering a human trafficking organization, the investigation of which reportedly involved the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI.
But were the websites which were shut down cybersecurity threats? Did DHS and ICE have the authority to seize them? Will the alleged court order authorizing the seizures be made available to the public?