We’ve been quite concerned about the legality of Homeland Security’s domain name seizures — especially in cases where they took down sites that had a ton of legitimate content, such as various hip hop blogs, with no due process and no adversarial hearings. One other concern was where Homeland Security’s direction on this was coming from. As we noted, in an earlier similar domain name seizure situation, Homeland Security announced the seizures from Disney’s headquarters — which should raise lots of eyebrows. As we said at the time, imagine any other government agency announcing a third party action that benefits a particular company from that company’s offices. For example, imagine the FTC announcing antitrust actions against Google from Microsoft’s offices. Wouldn’t people question the legitimacy of that?
Well, apparently, Homeland Security and the folks in its Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) group have no qualms at all about being quite upfront and frank about both the fact that they’re acting as Hollywood’s private police force and that they have little concern for due process. Entertainment Weekly spoke with Erik Barnett, the “assistant deputy director” for ICE, and he readily admitted that they were taking orders from the industry:
“In general, what we can say is, there are specific complaints from rights holders that these sites were infringing on copyrights.”
That alone should give you pause. Rights holders have a long and very detailed history of greatly over-exaggerating when their rights were supposedly being “infringed” upon. Remember Jack Valenti of the MPAA claiming that the VCR was the Boston Strangler to the movie industry? Why didn’t Customs “swoop in” and block all VCRs from being sold? Why? Because that would be ridiculous. So why is it effectively doing the exact same thing here?
No due process. No warning. Just confiscation of web sites on the word of businesses. Both judge and jury without having to get any of those damned lawyers involved. They are out of control.what happened to the Constitution here? I thought they stopped terrorists and tried to keep people out of the country. Looks like they found easier work – acting as the muscle for business interests.
I guess Rollerball (the original one with James Caan) really was prescient regarding the ownership of government by corporations.