Homeland Security’s Abusive Domain Seizures Questioned By Member Of The U.S. Congress
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services, Legal P2P News & Issues
At the end of August a bipartisan group of Representatives, headed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), have sent a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano (Secretary of Homeland Security), questioning their recent domain seizures.
“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,” the letter – signed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Ut.) – said.
The letter pointed to the case of former hip-hop website Dajaz1 which was seized for more than a year despite evidence that the portal had hosted lawful material, and that “many of the allegedly infringing links to copyrighted songs, and specifically the links that were the basis of the seizure order, were given to the site’s owner by artists and labels themselves” including Kanye West, Diddy, and a vice president of a major record label.
Furthermore, the government continuously refused to cooperate with attorneys representing Dajaz1; the only interest the government manifested was to close the website down, in as much secrecy as possible.
After court’s records were made public, they revealed that the government waited on RIAA’s evaluation on “sampling of allegedly infringing content” and respond to other “outstanding questions.
”Meanwhile, Dajaz1’s rights to speak for itself vanished, along with the public opinion on what’s going on.
After a year, the website was reinstated with no apology or explanations whatsoever.
However, this is not the first case of abuse. In February 2011 both Rojadirecta.com and Rojadirecta.org (two established sports streaming portals) were seized with no due process. Although a Spanish court ruled that the websites were legitimate, the government ignored their decision and kept the domains offline. On Wednesday they once again returned the websites to their owners with no explanation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with the Representatives – who have send a letter to find out about DHS’ policy – asked for an explanation.
It remains to be seen what kind of answer they’ll receive, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to be as blunt as it gets.