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Why I Am Not Worried About Domain Name Seizures

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There have been a surprising number of mainstream articles regarding the United States’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, ICE seized the domain names of alleged file sharing websites without any type of notice to them. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I received so many “did you see this” emails/phone calls from friends who aren’t in the business.

I will preface this by saying that I don’t like the idea of the government acting as judge and juror, while not seeming to give the website and/or domain name owners the opportunity to defend their actions. It’s scary that the government can simply take over some websites at it’s whim without the owner’s chance to defend his or her actions..

However, if the companies that own the websites are or were doing something illegal while violating the rights of people in the US (whom ICE is responsible to protect), this seizure is not such a huge deal as some might make it out to be. I think John Berryhill’s comment on Mike Berkens’ blog sums it up pretty well, comparing the seizure to that of a drug smuggler whose boat was used to smuggle drugs illegally.

Eventually, these website operates should have their day in court, but taking away their platform is a way to temporarily stop them from doing what the government believes is an illegal act (although it seems pretty simple to move to another domain name).  I don’t know where to draw the line when it comes to seizures such as this, but if a company happens to be brazenly flouting the law, I am not opposed to government intervention. If these website operators are in the right, then they will certainly have their day in court.

Some people seem to be making a big leap by fearing their domain names could potentially be put at risk. Sure, if you are doing something the US government finds blatantly illegal, then perhaps yours could be at risk. If someone is arrested for smoking weed in a public park, or firing a gun in the air in that park, it doesn’t mean you are being put at risk of arrest if you go for a jog in the park. If people were being rounded up for having a picnic in the park, that would be a different story.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (25)

    Louise

    Well said.

    November 28th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Dan

    Hi,

    Here is a interesting thought in IMHO:

    Quote:

    Last week the US Department of Homeland Security ceased more than 76 domains because of “Copyright-infringment”. These were mostly torrent sites but it shows where things are heading.

    The domains were ceased on the eve of a massive Wikileaks file release and that could mean that the US government is showing that they will cease domains without court orders or without the owners being found guilty of anything.

    It is almost as if the DHS is getting ready to blame all sites that post or share the Wikileaks files and (or) label them as “infringing copyright” (or illegal). That is just speculation but one wont be too surprised if that is in fact going to happen. End Quote

    _______

    I wonder, interesting view and perspective I think….I guess only time will tell.

    Best,
    Dan

    November 28th, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Elliot

    @ Dan

    Interesting thought… would imagine the government would have already taken that action if that was going to happen.

    November 28th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Dean

    I guess the only scary part about all this is that the domains were seized without due process. Homeland Security is JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER. Those who keep their nose clean have nothing to worry about.

    November 28th, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Dan

    Hi Dean,

    I agree 100% with the first part of your post…

    But,

    “Those who keep their nose clean have nothing to worry about.”

    What is criteria for what a “clean nose” is?

    That is the problem… I think there may be may things to worry about in the future…even if you think your ‘nose is clean’

    With our government now running amuck…in so many areas…

    I would keep the ’tissue box’ pretty close, even if your 100% sure your nose is clean.

    Peace!
    Dan

    November 28th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Kevin

    They’re just doing domain seizures the same way they do counterfeit goods at flea markets.

    If you never seen one of those raids go down it’s quite a fiasco. After doing an undercover buy, they just go right to the vendors booth, usually even making arrests, and they seize and confiscate all the fake merchandise on the spot, and shut down the operator’s business.

    Where a problem could arise with domains is if you’ve got a lot of fake merchandise operators advertising on your parked pages. Don’t know if ICE will go so far to grab a parked domain, but they definitely now can if they want to push the limit of the new laws.

    November 28th, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Dean

    Dan your right. I re-read your first post and it does not seem so far fetched. Our government spends vast amounts of resources censoring information. The way we are headed, we are not that far away from a fascist state, God forbid someone like Palin get’s elected.

    I do like to believe that at present there is still a modicum of personal and property rights still protected under and afforded by our government, but big business and other interests seem to be eroding that quickly. Still, while I may no agree with the law I do everything within it’s confines and hope for the best.

    November 28th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Dan

    Hi Dean,

    Well put…

    I get a lot of news with the word “domain” in it…

    You would be “shocked” that most of it has nothing at all to do with…domain names.

    60% or more has to do with:

    “Eminent Domain” cases….going on around the whole country…

    It is still ‘socking to me’…. but I see the news about them almost everyday.

    Fed, State, Local Governments all..

    ‘doing whats best for us’

    Sorry for getting a bit off topic….just had to let it out :)

    Peace to all!
    Dan

    November 28th, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    AC

    Next, we’ll see journalistic sites being shutdown under contrived excuses – if the sites aren’t spewing the DHS approved propaganda of the day. It reminds me of North Korean “journalism” – if I hear Napolitano being called the “glorious leader” . . . .

    November 28th, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    ed

    they are ceasing domains because there is no money everyone stys home and watches on lin movie tickets went down from 10$ to 3$ and there is no money flow and in this economy money needs to start flowing

    November 28th, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Tim Davids

    What if a “bad” site bought adwords and the ads showed on your site? Are you now an accessory?

    November 28th, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Elliot

    @ Tim

    I can’t imagine the government would be monitoring sites so closely. Even if they were, I am sure there are plenty of malicious sites they would target before they came after others.

    November 28th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Uzoma

    Elliot your article is balanced, and on the mark.

    The one problem with government though, is that the first step is usually not the only one. Once they get in to do the right thing, as it appears in this case, they will never hold stay, and simply do the right thing with it, they will start using the precedent to do big business bidding.

    If you recall, in the 18th century, the Supreme Court of the United States decided a case “Marbury V. Madison”, and from that precedent, or stare decisis, the Court established itself as the sole arbiter of what the Constitution meant to say, and more importantly, what it didn’t; and most significantly, the Court used that one case to establish authority to overrule congressional acts as unconstitutional if it deems fit. So, this tiny incident can be abused by the big boys. They can simply use ICE to short-cut lengthy or troublesome UDRPs..

    November 29th, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Uzoma

    Elliot,

    Here’s an article about Google’s frightening power. This is is actually related to one of your earlier posts. I wanted to know your thoughts on it:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-jarvis/what-should-google-do_b_788854.html

    November 29th, 2010 at 3:46 am

    John Berryhill

    “I guess the only scary part about all this is that the domains were seized without due process.”

    Dean, I am confused by that statement.

    The Fourth Amendment states that the government cannot seize things without a warrant sworn before a court. All of these seizures have been made pursuant to a court authorized warrant.

    November 29th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Greg

    I guess the main point I fail to understand is what linking to music downloads/digital files has to do with Homeland Security and/or Immigration. I guess when we live in a world where the people who seek expose violent crimes are labeled as terrorists, nothing is surprising.

    November 29th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Greg

    With all respect due John Berryhill, there are many property seizures conducted in the United States without warrant or cause. The 4th Amendment has been rendered pretty much obsolete. The state can pretty much do whatever it wants without warrants, with impunity.

    November 29th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Dietmar

    If, then Homeland Security should only be able to seize us-domains, NO OTHERS! This is BS, regardless that we really need a “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act”, but a legal one for everyone!
    What, if they do not like what others write on a cn-/fr-/de-domain? Will they also seize these domains in future?

    Ahoi!

    November 29th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Dan

    Hi,

    Interesting Article Updating This Subject Matter:

    Update For November 30 2010:

    Homeland Security’s Domain Name Seizure May Stretch The Law Past The Breaking Point

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101130/00494412051/homeland-securitys-domain-name-seizure-may-stretch-law-past-breaking-point.shtml

    ____

    Best To All!
    Dan

    November 30th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    LindaM

    I agree – these powers will be almost entirely directed at the brazenly out of line websites that reasonable internet users will be better off without. The few wrongly accused will no doubt be able to point to their obvious innocence, online activity creates such a massive amount of data that would surely be cut and dry and simply procedural. Furthermore the obviously wrongly accused may have civil redress against the gov, something Im sure the accountants have factored in and found to be a cheap price to pay to clean up some of the web.

    I think it would be an interesting metric to know what pages Elliot gets the top 5 “Did you see this?” emails for ! :)

    December 1st, 2010 at 2:21 am

    LindaM

    Wow this is scary http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/business/28borker.html?_r=2&ref=business
    if this law reduces this happening then Im all for it

    December 1st, 2010 at 2:29 am

    kasia

    It would be nice if the government would start seizing the domains of Islamic Terrorists and sympathetic Muslims (there are tens of thousands online with readily available information on DIY terrorism, Islamic Supremacism Propaganda and the like) rather than focusing on the illegal spread of western culture which is effectively westernizing the entire planet. I think with so-called illegal file sharing it’s a very cheap way of passivating the globe. The only alternative is to fight them.

    February 13th, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Dan

    Hi kasia,

    Why do they not seize this org’s domain name without a warrant or any ‘due process’?

    Our government is more worried about: ‘music download sites’ ??

    _______

    10:00 AM PST Sunday Feb 13th…Just got off the phone with the:

    Yorba Linda, Ca Community Center

    They told we that they were well aware of the “situation” …but they are letting the event go on.

    He told me that they have had “well over” a 1,000+ phone calls from people ‘respectfully’ asking them to cancel the event.

    I did the same…telling him that:

    ” Do you know who Siraj Wahhaj is and what he stands for?

    * That the Muslim Brotherhood calls Wahhaj the “American Imam.”

    * In 1993 he was named as an Unindicted Co Conspirator in World Trade Center Bombings Investigation.

    * Believes in converting gang members to Islam for “day America will crumble.”

    Wahhaj says for the faithful to go into the hood and prisons and convert disenfranchised minorities, and then arm and train them to carry out an Uzi jihad in the inner cities.

    * Wahhaj says “You know what this country (USA) is? It’s a garbage can.” He snarls. “It’s filthy.” He prays it (USA) “crumbles” and is replaced by Islam.

    Correct Link:

    scama.info/events/4582

    Here is their website: http://icnarelief.org/site/

    A “peaceful bunch”…. kinda operating like: “ Hezbollah”?

    __

    But the event is going on… I hope people are outside ‘protesting’ it…and our ‘bias’ mainstream media….covers it.

    Peace!
    Dan

    BTW:

    **’upscale area in Ca.**

    **The Richard Nixon library is in Yorba Linda.

    February 13th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

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