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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

US Government’s Domain Seizures Questioned by Congress

Lately last month a group of Representatives, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, has written to Attorney General Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, rising questions about their abusive domain seizures.


The letter claimed that the concern of the Congress members had centered on DHS methods, as well as the process given, when seizing the domains of online services whose actions and material are presumed to be legitimate and protected speech. The authors also mentioned the case of an ex hip-hop portal Dajaz1 that had been seized for over a year despite proven evidence that the website had hosted legitimate content, and that a lot of the allegedly infringing links to copyrighted tracks, especially those that were the basis of the seizure order, were provided to the portal admins by musicians and labels themselves.

Moreover, the authorities have continuously refused to collaborate with the lawyers who represented the hip-hop portal. In fact, the government was only interested in taking the website offline in secrecy. Once the court’s records were made public, it turned out that the government was waiting on the industry’s evaluation on sampling of allegedly infringing material and respond to other questions.

In the meantime, the right of the website to speak for itself vanished, as well as the public opinion on what is going on. In a year, Dajaz1 was reinstated without any apology or explanations from the authorities. Of course, its possible profits and members were long gone.

Nevertheless, this wasn’t the first case of abuse – last February two well-known sports streaming portals (Rojadirecta.com and Rojadirecta.org) had been seized without due process. Despite the Spanish court ruling that the portals were lawful, the government simply ignored it and kept the domains offline. Last week the authorities again returned the domains to their owners without any explanation. But the outfits like the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and the Representatives who sent a letter to find out about the policy of Department of Homeland Security, did demand an explanation.

Let’s see what answer they will be given by the authorities, but most likely it’ll be as blunt as it gets

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