Congress wants answers about Homeland Security domain name seizures

A bipartisan coalition of US Representatives is demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security regarding a spat of dubious domain name seizures conducted as part of Operation In Our Sights. The Representatives, led by California’s Zoe Lofgren, are concerned that  due process was not given to the domains seized.

A letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano specifically cites the seizure of hip hop fansite Dajaz1. The case has a long and troubled history, from the motivation (the government essentially took the RIAA’s word without any investigation), to the execution (dajaz1’s domain was held by the government, possibly illegally, for over a year before it was determined that it wasn’t doing anything wrong). To add insult to injury, the whole thing was conducted under a veil of secrecy that covered up utter incompetence for over a year.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) points out that a ton of other cases have suffered from the same problems; just last week the government released Rojadirecta.com and Rojadirecta.org, two sports streaming sites that it had held since February 2011. That’s a year and a half that those sites will get returned to them, and there’s not even an explanation for why it took so long.

Representative Lofgren and her allies, Jason Chaffetz and Jared Polis, are looking to pull back the curtain on what’s being covered up in these cases, and ensure that any future seizures are held accountable to the law. The gist of their letter comes down to 7 questions, like:

  • What is the process for determining which sites to target? Who is involved in that process? What specific steps do DOJ and ICE take to ensure that affidavits and other material are thoroughly reviewed for accuracy prior to seizing a domain?
  • Have you made any changes to your domain seizure policies or their implementations as a result of the issues arising from the Dajaz1 seizure or any other seizure? If so, what were those changes?
  • How many seizures do you anticipate occurring in the next six months and year?

Of course, there’s always the possibility that it’ll just get thrown in the wastebin and totally ignored. But we try to be more optimistic than that, so hopefully we’ll all come away from this with some answers, while the owners of seized domains get a better idea of how their cases are proceeding, and why it’s so hard to get answers. Whatever ends up happening, we’ll let you know as soon as we hear anything else.

Source: Congress of the United States | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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21 Comments

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instead of people constantly crying about their .com, .org and .net/.us domains getting seized

STOP USING THEM, geesh. Let them know we dont support this and let them see it!Go with other TLD's. They've never touched another nations TLD and they never will.

I used .com and .org domains for a very, very long time. Few years ago when I noticed more and more domains getting seized, i moved to EU domain. We have a European Law that prevents from any governmental instance upto interpol from seizing the domain(s).

"To add insult to injury, the whole thing was conducted under a veil of secrecy that covered up utter incompetence for over a year."


Should read "... utter incompetence for almost 4 years."

Regression_88 said,
"To add insult to injury, the whole thing was conducted under a veil of secrecy that covered up utter incompetence for over a year."


Should read "... utter incompetence for almost 4 years."

I thought the Department for Homeland Security was more than 4 years old? /s

jamieakers said,
I thought the Department for Homeland Security was more than 4 years old?o /s

It is.

But Janet Napolitano was appointed by Obama.

And Eric Holder was appointed by Obama.

See the recurring theme which started alomst 4 years ago... yet?

Thank god. That's all I can say. As much as I'm all for law enforcement doing what they do, the US's stance of "We own the internet" just doesn't sit well with me.

greenwizard88 said,
Thank god. That's all I can say. As much as I'm all for law enforcement doing what they do, the US's stance of "We own the internet" just doesn't sit well with me.

While I do agree, company's need to remember that the US does basically own the .COM, .NET and .ORG domain names. If you are not a US company, don't use server's hosted in the US then you probably don't want to use one of those domain names.

sphbecker said,

While I do agree, company's need to remember that the US does basically own the .COM, .NET and .ORG domain names. If you are not a US company, don't use server's hosted in the US then you probably don't want to use one of those domain names.

US does not own .com and never have they owned .net and .org, what are you talking about? Verisign registered the domain on 1985, that doesn't automatically make it an US domain.

sphbecker said,

While I do agree, company's need to remember that the US does basically own the .COM, .NET and .ORG domain names. If you are not a US company, don't use server's hosted in the US then you probably don't want to use one of those domain names.

I'm pretty sure the British man Sir Tim Berners-Lee may disagree with you there. He invented the internet and founded it to be free of political control.

alwaysonacoffeebreak said,
Verisign registered the domain on 1985, that doesn't automatically make it an US domain.
No, but the company is subject to US law. If you don't want your domain to be subject to US law, don't use domains owned by companies subject to them.

jamieakers said,
I'm pretty sure the British man Sir Tim Berners-Lee may disagree with you there. He invented the internet and founded it to be free of political control.
That's nice, and quite irrelevant. The internet exists without domain names; he has nothing to do with the ownership of .com.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

US does not own .com and never have they owned .net and .org, what are you talking about? Verisign registered the domain on 1985, that doesn't automatically make it an US domain.

Wait, I thought Verisign was based out of Reston, VA which would mean it's under the jurisdiction of the United States.

Of course I don't agree with the government paying so much attention to one companies domains and going around the world to illegally arrest people. If Verisign owns the domains, Verisign should police them - not the government.

SharpGreen said,
I don't quite see what being a personal police force to Hollywood has to do with Homeland Security.

Protecting the economy and greed of the homeland and putting some lame constitutional laws last in order to help some fat cats?

Come on, you really can't make the link there?

GS:mac

SharpGreen said,
I don't quite see what being a personal police force to Hollywood has to do with Homeland Security.
"Terrorists"

Because they're downloading our country out of existence. Plus we have to stop them from hosting suicide vests via magnet links.

Seems pretty obvious to me why they take so long. 18months or so is a long time for a site to regain popularity and cause offence again... with hopes that the owners now face a deterrent that if they do anything again, they are being monitored and will have their site taken off them without any notice...
Of course that'd only apply to sites that were doing anything wrong, for the owners of sites that are legit its just boils down to a hole lot of confusion and anger.

Xenosion said,
What's this? Something productive coming out of Congress? Surely this a mistake.

I'm sure that it will be corrected in due time.

THolman said,

I'm sure that it will be corrected in due time.


I sure hope so...

We must always make sure to put the interest of industry and fat cats first NO QUESTIONS ASKED.
Whilst we're at it, why not return us doing them the favor by doing them the favor of burdening them less, accepting their great imaginations of how we consume etc etc...
Oh, wait... that makes no sense... good good, let's carry on as usual.

Seriously, I think if these Sirs and Ladies of the Congress turn out to be serious, they need to be thrown out.
They do not act like proper politicians at all!


WOW and because there are really people who can't understand sarcasm at all:
/BIG SARCASM TAG

GS:mac