Homeland Security shuts down dozens of Web sites without court order

By Daniel Tencer
Raw Story

The Dept. of Homeland Security Censorship has gone on a Web site shutdown spree, closing down at least 76 domains this week, at least one being a Google-like search engine. All the shut sites have been seized by Homeland Security with no indication that their original owners will ever be able to get them back, reports Daniel Tencer. Who needs COICA?

The Homeland Security Department’s customs enforcement division has gone on a Web site shutdown spree, closing down at least 76 domains this week, according to online reports.

While many of the web domains were sites that trafficked in counterfeit brand name goods, and some others linked to copyright-infringing file-sharing materials, at least one site was a Google-like search engine, causing alarm among web freedom advocates who worry the move steps over the line into censorship.

All the shut sites are now displaying a Homeland Security warning that copyright infringers can face up to five years in prison.

According to a report at TorrentFreak, the search engine that was shut down — Torrent-Finder.com — neither hosted copyrighted material nor directly linked to places where it could be found. Instead, the site opened new windows to sites that did link to file-sharing materials.

“When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield,” writes Torrentfreak, “Unless you’re ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is.”

As of its last update, Torrentfreak counted 76 domains shut down this week.

Homeland Security’s ability to shut down sites without a court order evidently comes from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a Clinton-era law that allows Web sites to be closed on the basis of a copyright complaint. Critics have long assailed the DMCA for being too broad, as complainants don’t need to prove copyright infringement before a site can be taken down.

News of the shutdowns has some observers wondering whether the US really needs COICA, the anti-counterfeiting bill that passed through a Senate committee with unanimous approval last week. That bill would allow the federal government to block access to Web sites that attorneys general deem to have infringed on copyright.

“Domain seizures coming under the much debated ‘censorship bill’ COICA? Who needs it?” quips Torrentfreak.

However, COICA would allow the government to block access to Web sites located anywhere in the world, while Homeland Security’s take-downs are limited to servers inside the United States. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said he would place a hold on COICA, effectively killing the bill at least until the new congressional session next year.

The owner of Torrent-Finder.net complained that his search engine was shut down without so much as a court order or prior complaint.

“My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the owner said, without being identified in the Torrentfreak article.

Earlier this week, Homeland Security shut down a popular hip-hop music site, RapGodfathers.com, which had nearly 150,000 members. The site claims it is compliant with copyright laws, as it doesn’t host copyrighted materials. However, its users posted links to file-hosting services such as Rapidshare and Megaupload, where copyrighted material may have been shared.

These domains are now “the property of Homeland Security,” writes Gareth Halfacree at Thinq.co.uk, “And there’s no indication that their original owners will ever be able to get them back.”

10 responses to “Homeland Security shuts down dozens of Web sites without court order

  1. What does copyrights infringements have to do with Homeland Security? Does that effect American’s security? It has more to do with the corporations that hold the copyrights. I think Homeland Security needs to be shut down for infringing on American Citizens rights!

  2. Well, perhaps we can get Homeland Security to shut down Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Last time I checked, those corporations were hosts to the mailboxes used in over 2/3 of the phishing I tracked.

  3. and so it begins … the descent of the electric curtain

  4. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Homeland Security shuts down dozens of Web sites without court order | COTO Report

  5. used to be “any excuse will do”
    now they dont even need an excuse!
    a show of muscle, and more to follow for sure.
    th COICA having worldwide access?
    since when did USA have that power?
    no wonder people hate america.

  6. The Department of Homeland Buffoonery is not a legitimate entity – they are a festering carbuncle on the asshole of humanity and must be abolished. Even in our sleepy little town of Victoria BC we a have a DHS office – it’s not even a part of our government for Christ’s sake.

    Message to all DHS workers – thanks for representing the people who murdered 3,000 innocent souls on 9/11, you have made a valuable contribution to the forces of evil in this world, either through your ignorance or malevolence you are deserving of our hatred and scorn.

  7. While most are preoccupied with the holidays, or perhaps their last unemployment check, DHS makes a predatory move. You can be sure it won’t be the last.

  8. Oh, Laudy, I bet it is trhe first of many…as was once quoted: Mercy! It’s the revolution and I’m in my bathrobe”! Shut it down, DHS, see how many it takes to shut YOU down, for the is what is next.

  9. I think this was post was duplicated. Oh well.
    I read about this bill’s passing earlier and its absolutely the worst thing thats happened in awhile. The internet is the last bit of freedom left in this shitty country. We need an uprising like in Europe against the useless nanny government. I’m especially worried about natural health websites. Allopathic medicine with all their poison and terrible surgeries needs to be banned. Those oncologists need to be hanged in the guillotine.

    Its time for a Health Freedom Liberation Front.

  10. As one can read here, there are as many ways of “shutting it down” as there are people who respond. That is not a good starting point. Folks first need to read a good translation of the Art of War. Then we come to the table and feed each others’ ideas until one fits consensually.

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