|DHS Shut Down Blog For A Year On False Pretenses
Homeland Security is seizing websites for “copyright infringement” with no evidence
| December 9, 2011
In a chilling illustration of how far Internet censorship has advanced, the Department of Homeland Security seized a popular music blog and shut down the website for over a year on charges it now admits were completely false.
The website in question – www.dajaz1.com – was not some obscure, dubious blog – it was a popular platform for DJ’s that was once featured on MTV.
“Around Thanksgiving 2010, the Department of Homeland Security seized more than 70 domains with no trial, accusing them of copyright infringement,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Dajaz1.com was caught in the dragnet after DHS claimed four songs posted on the website were used without permission, when in fact the musicians and publicists concerned had sent the tracks directly to Dajaz1 with express authorization.
That didn’t stop Homeland Security from seizing and shutting down the blog for over a year, violating the law by refusing to tell its owner why the website was taken and subsequently missing the 90 day deadline for explaining why the owner should forfeit the property permanently.
“Or at least that’s what the owner assumed when he heard nothing. Then the court told him that the government got an extension.”
“But the owner couldn’t see the extension because all the filings in the case were sealed, and was not allowed to testify in court to ask for his property back, says TechDirt.”
The saga finally came to a close when the owner was handed back control of the website only yesterday.
The lesson to take from this is that Homeland Security can now just claim your website contains copyrighted material with no evidence whatsoever and seize it without any recourse.
“This whole thing has been a disgrace by the US government, starting with a bogus seizure, improper and illegal censorship, followed by denial of due process and unnecessary secrecy,” reports TechDirt.
The DHS has already seized dozens of websites merely for linking to copyrighted material, despite the fact that such material isn’t even hosted on the website itself, a process the Electronic Frontier Foundation has criticized as, “Blunt instruments that cause unacceptable collateral damage to free speech rights.”
The targeted website, now finally back in the hands of its rightful owner, has become a poster child for the anti-Internet censorship movement. The front page of the site urges readers to oppose the Protect IP Act, legislation that will give the government even more power to block websites by creating an official blacklist.
As we reported back in October, the bill that has attracted bi-partisan support in the House will force Internet Service Providers to create a list of banned websites and prevent their users from accessing the sites, creating a Chinese-style ‘ban list’ that could easily be abused to silence free speech. Lawmakers like Senator Joe Lieberman have teamed up with Department of Homeland Security officials to push draconian legislation in an effort to mimic the Communist Chinese system of policing the Internet.
“A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name’s Internet Protocol address,” states the bill.
Given the fact that the U.S. government is now ordering You Tube to remove videos that contain “government criticism,” the potential for this legislation to be abused to silence political free speech is clear. Add to that the fact that Verisign, the global authority over all .com domain names, is demanding the power to terminate websites deemed “abusive” when ordered to by government without a court order or any kind of oversight whatsoever, and the threat to web freedom is clear.