US senator slams DHS over domain seizures

Posted by Trent Nouveau

US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wants to know why the Department of Homeland Security insists on continuing its controversial policy of seizing domain names.

The senator expressed particular concern over the uncermonious seizure of the Spanish-based Rojadirecta.org, which was recently downed by the DOJ and ICE.

"Did [the DOJ] and ICE take into account the legality of Rojadirecta before it ceased its domain name?" asked Wyden in a letter to the DHS obtained by Ars Technica

"What standard does DoJ expect foreign countries to use when determining whether to seize a domain name controlled in the US for copyright infringement?"



Wyden also emphasized that the current domain name seizure process fails to provide blacklisted websites with an opportunity to defend themselves before sanctions are imposed.

"I worry that domain name seizures could function as a means for end-running the normal legal process in order to target websites that may prevail in full court.

"The new enforcement approach used by Operation In Our Sites is alarmingly unprecedented in the breadth of its potential reach."



According to Wyden, if the Obama administration's efforts are to be seen as legitimate, it must be able to defend its use of the forfeiture laws by prosecuting operators of domain names, while simultaneously providing a means to ensure due process.

"If the federal government is going to take property and risk stifling speech, it must be able to defend those actions not only behind closed doors but also in a court of law," he added.