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.