I just realized that I may not be as fully informed about the role of Homeland Security as I should be, when this morning I read in a small piece on Neowin about DHS seizing over 70 domains for their proximity to sites known for piracy.
I did not know this had anything to do with the purview of DHS, as I was under the mistaken impression that the stated purpose of the department was the physical security of persons and property in the United States of America.
From the DHS web page I did happen to see this –
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains $650 million to support construction of the Department’s new headquarters, which will bring together components scattered geographically throughout the Washington area. As part of the same effort, the Department has begun consolidating over 40 leases in the National Capital Region, saving taxpayers $163 million over the next 30 years.
In March, Secretary Napolitano launched a Department-wide efficiency review to trim costs, streamline operations, eliminate duplication, and better manage resources across the Department. This effort includes more than two dozen initiatives that will increase efficiency and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
Transparency and Reform
To ensure that all Department employees operate with the highest ethical standards, on her second day in office, Secretary Napolitano directed every incoming employee to receive a personal and comprehensive ethics briefing by the chief ethics officer. The Department launched www.dhs.gov/recovery to increase transparency about how Recovery Act funds are being spent.
I read through that and thought it might be a good thing that the consolidation is taking place, and certainly saving taxpayer dollars cannot be argued with. Transparency of operations and ethical conduct is certainly worthwhile and (I would think,) expected as well.
So, then I went a little further , and under a title I would never have guessed it would be found was Protection Against Fraud and Counterfeiting. Where was this found? Under the heading of Counterterrorism.
Not only does that seem like overreaching to the extreme, it also seems a bit scary. I’m not sure I want intellectual property rights, which are important, but not a cause of physical harm, lumped in with counterterrorism.
To me that is almost like putting stealing candy from babies as a crime to be investigated by the same people, and more importantly, using the same means and methods, as searching for child molesters. The two are not in the same range of severity, and probably should not ever be undertaken by the same people.
Further, the story in Neowin tells of the imprudent operation of DHS, considering they are casting a wide net, and apparently taking down websites that have anything to do with piracy – that is, in their frame of reference.
I was going to make a joke about piracy, and put as many synonyms as I could in the keywords, but seriously, I would not want for anything to happen to Lockergnome.
It is starting to appear to be that bad.
If you have a US based domain name and are tied to piracy, the office of Homeland Security may be on the hunt for your domain, as over 70 domains have been seized and effectively shut down for their ties to piracy.
According to Torrentfreak.com, “Aside from the fact that domains are being seized seemingly at will, there is a very serious problem with the action against Torrent-Finder. Not only does the site not host or even link to any torrents whatsoever, it actually only returns searches through embedded iframes which display other sites that are not under the control of the Torrent-Finder owner.”
While the Government is working hard to take down file sharing sites, the problem is that these websites are simply the window to the store and are not actually housing any of the information. Also for a site owner to move their content to another domain is a relatively easy task, the real targets of the Homeland Security office should be the servers housing the information, not the front end dealers.
The problem for the Homeland Security is that the servers are not located on US soil, so there is little that can be done; the servers hosted in foreign locations are out of the jurisdiction of the office so the next best thing to do is go after the front end providers.
Unfortunately, in every other part of our system of laws, that sort of “going after known associates” without proof of their guilt would be completely off limits, and be thrown out of court quickly, with a slap on the hands to those bringing up the nuisance prosecution.
When it comes to things that are now associated with terrorism, or homeland security, there appears to be no limits to the lengths that will be undertaken to destroy anything associated with them.
While that sounds like a good thing on the surface, underneath it looks far from it, with the leaps taken by law enforcement far too great for any thoughtful person to accept.