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Senator: domain name seizures "alarmingly unprecedented"


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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has 10 tough questions for the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), all of which can be more easily summed up in a single, blunter question: what the hell are you guys doing over there?

Wyden's displeasure is over ICE's Operation In Our Sites, the controversial program that began seizing Internet domain names last year, and just grabbed several more sports-related domains this week. The seizures are all signed off on by a federal judge, but the affected parties get no warning and no chance to first challenge the claim that they are running illegal businesses. In fact, in yesterday's takedown, ICE grabbed the domain Rojadirecta.org, a site that links to live sports on the Web and has twice been declared legal by Spanish courts.

While different countries of course have different laws, and what may be allowable in one country would be illegal in the US, Wyden raises the obvious question of turnabout: "Did [Department of Justice] and ICE take into account the legality of Rojadirecta.org before it ceased its domain name? ... What standard does DoJ expect foreign countries to use when determining whether to seize a domain name controlled in the US for copyright infringement?"

His other questions are just as pointed, and they're all contained in a letter to ICE director John Morton. Wyden asks whether merely linking to infringing online content is illegal (several of the seized domain names did not host any infringing content themselves). He wants to know why the domain names are being seized, but why there's no attempt to prosecute those behind the sites, if these are really criminals. And he wants ICE to keep (and make public) a list of the companies that have lobbied for any particular site's name to be seized, all to ensure that "Operation In Our Sites is not used to create competitive advantages in the marketplace."

Wyden also digs into one specific case, last year's seizure of the dajaz1.com domain name. The site, which blogged about music and hosted some downloads, was claimed to infringe on copyrights, but Wyden notes that press reports later showed that many of the songs on the site had been provided to its operator directly by music industry executives. Despite the stories, ICE made no move apparent move to look into the case or restore the site's original domain name. Wyden wants "the Administration's justification for continued seizure of this domain name and its rationale for not providing this domain name operator, and others, due process."

Just in case ICE had any doubts about Wyden's hostility to the entire process, the Senator makes his broader position clear:

In contrast to ordinary copyright litigation, the domain name seizure process does not appear to give targeted websites an opportunity to defend themselves before sanctions are imposed. As you know, there is an active and contentious legal debate about when a website may be held liable for infringing activities by its users. I worry that domain name seizures could function as a means for end-running the normal legal process in order to target websites that may prevail in full court. The new enforcement approach used by Operation In Our Sites is alarmingly unprecedented in the breadth of its potential reach...

For the Administration's efforts to be seen as legitimate, it should be able to defend its use of the forfeiture laws by prosecuting operators of domain names and provide a means to ensure due process. If the federal government is going to take property and risk stifling speech, it must be able to defend those actions not only behind closed doors but also in a court of law.

Spicy stuff.

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I will stand behind that too.. I said it three or more time something does not seem right.. even in an investigation.. which was the only thing that I can even think of.. Due process is not to be ignored.. in fact its even grounds for dismissal of charges... and even investigation of corruption... a 'hunch' never stands up in court... and you may never get anywhere with it..

Leaving behind vandalism .. of destroyed domains isn't right either.. Like ripping a car up looking for illegal things and leaving the innocent there with $20,000 worth of damage.. for no reason... which can detrimentally effect those lives.. where does the line get drawn between collateral damage and responsibility... I mean we can try to protect you fro the criminals... but we can't guarantee it and we can't protect you from the authorities either.. because they answer to nobody for sake of saving face..

Something needs structure and definition..

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no this admin is illegal and must go. did any other president ever do this kind of thing since the 20th century? nope. this nazi bast has got to go

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Well.. then all I have to say is that the President didn't take these actions... or direct them to do so.. these are decisions made by the three entities based on tips and reporting by corporations..

You seem to have something personal against the President here in America... if you lived/live here then all I have to ask you is what are you going to do when you elect a real piece of crap.. and empower your congress to make incredibly and horrendously bad decision like the previous 8 years leading up to that point.. In my honest opinion.. I think you should be thankful you even have someone there who gives a damn.. and is trying for the right goals... instead of spinning it backward 20 years... and bankrupting the government .. while turning the power over to corporations.. and disallowing the American people from being a part of those decisions...

The only thing you have to look forward to .. in regards to the subject matter here.. is that someone is going to do something about it eventually ...one way or the other... There is still a system of accountability... and power check in place.. as well as individuals who are given forum to stand up for the right thing.. and in it targeting the correct entities involved...

Now .. one last thought and in conjunction with what I mentioned above.. is basic.. But what would expect from someone who actually does go about things of this nature in the wrong manner and similar to the preceding years.. What decisions would you expect them to make.. and how liable would you be in it?

I have said it before.. there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.. anything really.. The presidents power is limited in effect of what he can do and cannot do.. for instance stand in the way of a legal investigation.. or tell an authority who to pick and choose... The problem is that in one way or another the lack of structure and objectivity of said organizations.. are allowing corporations to report valid sites.. for investigation.. and expect a return of consumers to their door... Like going next door and slitting your neighbors tires so he is unable to show up to work.. so you can slip in and take the job or his place...

You want a real bastard.. then go ahead and ruin this country.. ignore this simplicities which it runs on.. be ignorant of them so that you can become another empty head... and be told what to do.. and that you have no power to do anything about it.. allow it to be a real true dictatorship... allow totalitarianism from the civilians.. and the government... See where it ends at...

There really are things we may not agree with.. because of our views or what we do... There are quite a few things I would like to see change as well.. yet there are reasons they will not...

You should look at the details because they are important its easy to rant and incite a riot... its easy to just pop-off and say something... Its much harder to actually find solutions.. get the facts.. and work for a future...I have more faith in people to realize these things... and to make better decisions with a realist idea.. and a down to earth point of view... There is a process for everything....

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US Senator Worries Domain Seizures May Stifle Free Speech

Earlier this week we broke the news that US authorities had started a third round of domain seizures. This time, it turned out that the actions were aimed at sports streaming sites. In total, 10 domain names belonging to 6 websites were handed over to the authorities.

As with previous seizures, the actions of the authorities were met with disbelief by the sites’ owners and their millions of visitors. The owner of Rojadirecta, one of the affected sites, questioned the legitimacy of the seizure since his site has twice been declared legal in Spain. In addition, many further questions were raised.

Today, we learned a little bit more about the justifications for the “Super Bowl Crackdown” after we obtained the affidavit that ICE agent Daniel Brazier sent to the US District Court. However, the request for a seizure warrant is very generic and leaves many questions unanswered.

Luckily, we’re not the only ones who want to find out more about the lack of due process and the need for domain seizures that comply with the DMCA. US Senator Ron Wyden asks the same questions.

In a letter addressed to ICE director John Morton he voiced his concerns, stating that the seizures are “alarmingly unprecedented” and that they could “stifle constitutionally protected speech.” In addition, Senator Wyden asks the following.

1. How does ICE and DoJ measure the effectiveness of Operation In our Sites and domain seizures more broadly — how does the government measure the benefits and costs of seizing domain names?

2. Of the nearly 100 domain names seized by the Obama Administration over the last 9 months, how many prosecutions were initiated, how many indictments obtained, and how were the operators of these domain names provided due process?

3. What is the process for selecting a domain name for seizure and, specifically, what criteria are used?

a. Does the Administration make any distinction between domain names that are operated overseas and those that are operated in the U.S.

b. Does the Administration consider whether a domain name operated overseas is in compliance with the domestic law from which the domain name is operated?

c. What standard does the Administration use to ensure that domains are not seized that also facilitate legitimate speech?

d. What standards does ICE use to ensure that it does not seize the domain names of websites the legal status of which could be subject to legitimate debate in a U.S. court of law; how does ICE ensure that seizures target on the true “bad actors?”

4. Does the Administration believe that hyperlinks to domain names that offer downloadable infringing content represent a distribution of infringing content, or do they represent speech?

5. Does the Administration believe that websites that facilitate discussion about where to find infringing content on the Internet represents speech or the distribution of infringed content? What if the discussion on these websites includes hyperlinks to websites that offer downloadable, infringing content?

6. What standard does DoJ expect foreign countries to use when determining whether to seize a domain name controlled in the U.S. for copyright infringement?

7. Did DoJ and ICE take into account the legality of Rojadirecta.org before it seized its domain name? If so, did DoJ and ICE consult with the Department of State or the United States Trade Representative before seizing this site in order to consider how doing so is consistent with U.S. foreign policy and commercial objectives

8. In an affidavit written by Special Agent Andrew Reynolds, he uses his ability to download four specific songs on the domain name dajaz1.com as justification for seizure of this domain name. According to press accounts, the songs in question were legally provided to the operator of the domain name for the purpose of distribution. Please explain the Administration’s justification for continued seizure of this domain name and its rationale for not providing this domain name operator, and others, due process.

9. Can you please provide to me a list of all the domain names seized by the Obama Administration since January of 2009 and provide the basis for their seizure?

10. Do ICE and DoJ keep a record of who meets with federal law enforcement about particular domain names? If not, would you consider keeping such a record and making it publicly available, to ensure transparency in government and that Operation in our Sites is not used to create competitive advantages in the marketplace?

The questions above cover most of the concerns that were raised among the public, and it will be very interesting to see how ICE’s director responds. Last time he responded to the domain seizures, Morton made quite a few mistakes, so we hope this time around the answers will be more substantial and honest.

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problem is this presidewnt sees no limits and wants it all. he is a little hilter. and anythign that happens or actions like in the ICE he knew and said yes

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SO.. you think the president has time and involvement ..to micro-manage every agency.. which I might ad is run by other divisions who have their heads, hierarchies, and infrastructures... beyond the statute of limitations and is violating the law....

.. and I am guessing that you think that corruption of this type run deep within all infrastructures present in society in all places.. the Police, who are run by the congressman who run the crime bosses.. and the dealers.. along with some other shit you have no basis to base the accusation farther than TV and Movies..

..Or wait is he really a terrorist hiding behind a dictator, hiding behind a monarchy.. that hiding behind a democracy.. and system of checks ad balances.. which is a system by which the government is run... Based on a paranoia which comes from your guilt...possibly even with a little sense of a hate crime... in which gives you the basis to show nothing more than name calling.. and delusion or lies to base accusations.. in which you cannot prove nor negotiate farther than such..because your individual goals are not being met...Its a bit selfish to say the least.. and void of rational thought...

Its a FAIL all the way 'round.. I mean we see it on TV.. at least we can actually see someone informing people about making better decisions on FOX.. at least we can read this same sort of thing as a great example which only strengthens everything I stand for by showing exactly what it is....

Present real proof..not accusations.. and something that is tangible to the fact and then I will start my journey to find the truth on my own.. and still make those decisions on my own..

It would almost sound as though a rally to turn people whom this effects against someone who has no involvement... Its been quite common even in the media and disproved time and time again.. Basis being that its filleted and lain open with nothing to hide for the world to view.. You sound like angry republican.. still reaching to get the money and clout back into their pockets from the corporations and by using the backs of the ordinary people.. whom have become enslaved to said bad decisions though many administrations already...

It doesn't surprise me really.. I have seen many this way... and then they want to preach about God and say its because you've angered him.. I have seen it stoop to many lows in my time... Those who profit from the calamity of a failed system.. create an imbalance in which we cannot survive... Its why the nation has chosen someone else...

I always ask people what first started it.. if they could remember.. and what points would prove it... I ask them this and find that many don't know.. and all too many times they have had their ears bent already.. not making decisions based on things they know and observe with facts and evidence of such... ON THEIR OWN.. instead they sell their souls to something quite disgusting.. Like that of many politicians who run their campaigns and their ideas through the face of the media..

Everyone has an angle.. there is always a story to tell and something to be said from all of it.. but getting people to think is much more.. Getting them to realize what elements are at play.. who and what effected it... hat was really to blame without a form of dissociative properties.. and clarity.. to clear whatever it is that keeps looping back to a cause which is impossible to even occur..

They claim the innocent and those who do not even have clue about anything.. before the information is given.. before they learn and even before they can form an opinion on their own... Thought bending and corrupting the ideals of the people themselves would give you the power.. but in its corruption you have the ultimate failure... A lack of being able to obtain it forthright and pure... the cycle is disgusting... and its wrong... Lashing out, misdirecting what and who is at fault... when the guilt can only lay with those who commit it..

EDIT: Really the only thing that EVERYONE should be doing is doing the best job possible.. its the only way.. and the only thing anyone is going to go for.. that has any common sense... All I hear are the dying scratches from the inside of a coffin... :) The methods, incompetence, both mentally and and on the stage which is set.. where every opportunity has been made.. speaks for itself.. bottom-line... Focus and objectivity with efficiency in moving forward with implementation and technologies to improve our way of life.. and raise the bar for ourselves.. and to proceed with professionalism and with precise execution.. to have a place on this planet.. to survive and win... is the only option...

Wallowing in the mire.. these are the elements which we must rid ourselves of.. for sake of the continuing deadly cyclic stagnation of all things resembling life... even at every point of focus this has to be thought about...

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