Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Totalitarianism Through Technology, Episode 4

Another Homeland Security Overreach: DHS Starts Seizing Websites
The always interesting Business Insider has this report:
The Department of Homeland Security’s ICE has launched a major crackdown on websites enabling copyright infringement or selling counterfeits of trademarked goods. In just the past few days ICE has seized at least 12 domains, TorrentFreak reports.
Knowingly violating someone’s copyright is rightfully against the law.
Still, this part of the article bothers me:
The owner of an affected site told TorrentFreak that his domain was taken over without any prior complaints or notification from the court.
Here are the two critical points:
So, the sites were seized before the site’s owner heard any charges or had the chance to submit any counter evidence in court. The owners of the sites had their property seized without being allowed to defend themselves.
But, the article begs an even bigger question: What the hell do fake Guccis have to do with homeland security?
Property seizure without due process is flat out against the law, and one of the reasons explicit in the Declaration of Independence for our secession from Britain. How could copyright infringement be a threat to national security?

The questions we should all be asking:
In the aftermath of 9-11, when the creation of DHS was being debated, would your opinion have been swayed if you knew that, within just a few years, the proposed agency would be seizing websites peddling fake purses? Did you imagine that the proposed agency would soon demand to take naked photographs of randomly-selected U.S. citizens? Or, insist on its authority to physically grope children?
Now, ask yourself this: What will the Agency be doing 10 years from now? Or, 20? In a little more than half a decade, DHS has morphed from protecting us from terrorists to protecting us from fake merchandise. Who is going to protect us from DHS?

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