It truly is a sad state of affairs when the government screws up in such a spectacular way that 84,000 web sites, none of which are doing anything illegal, are taken down, even temporarily, in the name of protecting the populace.
The crime ostensibly committed by these sites is one of distribution of child pornography, nothing to be sneezed at, but also something that the government should be certain about before taking any actions.
Apparently certainty is also no longer what it once was, because those sites were shut down with the rather worrying message –
“Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution”
All well and good, if you have the goods on them, but when there is absolutely no evidence of this type of problem, the government better be ready for about 84,000 lawsuits, as this is the sort of thing that not only sullies a good reputation and demolishes traffic, it is personally hurtful. It is my opinion that messages like the above should not be ever posted on a website until the guilty verdict is rendered in a proper court.
That one thing could have saved the government from a lot of egg on the face, because the sites could have simply been blocked, since they had the belief of the problem, and allowed a period of fact checking that was not done beforehand.
Since we are told, as citizens, that we should be very certain before accusing someone of something unlawful, should the government (all branches) not set the prime example?
The torrentfreak site details further why this sort of thing should be never attempted until unassailable evidence is obtained – the speed with which the problem was rectified took, in some cases, three days to resolve, and not once was there a similar banner put up indicating that the government had made a colossal mistake and that people visiting should affix no blame to the site for the problem.
Although it is not clear where this massive error was made, and who’s responsible for it, the Department of Homeland security is conveniently sweeping it under the rug. In a press release that went out a few hours ago the authorities were clearly proud of themselves for taking down 10 domain names.
However, DHS conveniently failed to mention that 84,000 websites were wrongfully taken down in the process, shaming thousands of people in the process.
This is the sort of thing that should get a massive response by the citizenry, because if the Department of Homeland Security is allowed to continue unabated, the problems will only worsen.
The idiots (yes, I said it, as I wish to be plain, and not in any way unclear) responsible for this should lose their jobs, and never be allowed to hold a position of authority in the government again. This is simply too much damage for apologies and flowers.
We are speaking of liberty here, and its abridgement, so there is no room for error. Perhaps the government should adopt the same response to this as the court systems do with guilt versus innocence. Better to let some guilty go free than to put one innocent man in prison.
Some will say the government is made up of people, and people are fallible. That is correct. That is also why there should be checks and balances in place, and this should never happen again, no matter what the alleged crimes committed may be.