Is Obama Administration Going Too Far in Seizing Web Domains?
A bipartisan group of lawmakers have expressed concerns over the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) copyright-related seizure of hundreds of websites over the past two years.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, three members of the House Judiciary Committee said they had reservations over DHS’ tactics in “Operation In Our Sites,” which was launched in 2010.
“Our concern centers on your Department’s methods, and the process given, when seizing the domain names of websites whose actions and content are presumed to be lawful, protected speech,” wrote Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
The House members cited the case of Dajaz1, a hip-hop website taken down by the government because of alleged copyright infringement. DHS accused Dajaz1 of linking to copyrighted songs, when in fact it had not. But it took homeland security officials a year to correct the problem and return the website domain. They also never offered an explanation to the owner of Dajaz1.
In a similar case, on January 31, 2011, DHS seized the sports streaming sites Rojadirecta.com and Rojadirecta.org. However, on August 29 the government dropped its case against Rojadirecta and returned the domain to its Spanish owners without explanation.
To date, DHS has seized about 700 domain names as part of “Operation In Our Sites.”
To Learn More:
Homeland Security's Domain Seizures Worries Congress (by Dara Kerr, CNET)
Members of Congress Demand Answers for Homeland Security’s Unjust Domain Name Seizures (by Trevor Timm, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Letter to Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano (Representative Zoe Lofgren) (pdf)
Rojadirecta: The Government Reverses Course and Returns Domains Without Explanation. Again. (by Julie Samuels, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
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