Annual Cyber-Monday ICE Take Down Blitz 2012by Timothy Geigner
Nov. 27, 2012
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It's cyber-Monday, the day when many of us basically go to Amazon.com and get a bunch of gifts for friends and family because going to the store this time of year is as dangerous as a North Korean prison camp. I say "many of us" partially to account for anyone out there who doesn't celebrate Christmas and partially to account for the hardworking folks at America's Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who instead spend the day posing as shoppers to shut down internet sites that they think are selling infringing or counterfeit products and replacing their web pages with handy little ICE "naughty" badges (Just like Santa would do! Yay!). We covered their exploits last year as they went about taking down 150 domains, sans the websites in question being able to tell their side of the story. It's like justice, minus any of that annoying rights of the accused crap!
Well, ICE is at it again, this time taking down only 132 websites, in their effort to stop commerce they decide they don't like.
"This operation is a great example of the tremendous cooperation between ICE and our international partners at the [Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center]," ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. "Our partnerships enable us to go after criminals who are duping unsuspecting shoppers all over the world. This is not an American problem, it is a global one and it is a fight we must win."As with last year, ICE appears to be focusing on trademark infringers and counterfeiters, but they haven't released the list of sites seized yet, so we can't be sure there aren't any Dajaz1-type screw-ups in there as well. Still, the question remains why they have to do this en masse on one day instead of going through the more tedious, though transparent, process of taking the sites to court. Yes, the article states that they are getting court orders to take down the sites, but why not actually drag site owners into the courtroom and give them a chance to represent themselves before shutting down their ability to operate entirely? Is it likely that most, if not all, of these sites are infringing some way? Perhaps, but given that we've seen ICE take down innocent sites in the past, why not err on the side of caution and actually follow the justice process?
I also find Morton's comment about this not being an "American problem" quite amusing given the annual cyber-Monday take down blitz. If this isn't an America-focused event, why is it being conducted on cyber-Monday, a predominantly American marketing term?