Feeds

Site appeals feds' unprecedented domain seizure

'Operation in our Sites' challenged

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The Spanish operator of a website related to sports has petitioned for the return of two domain names seized by the US government in an unprecedented campaign that confiscates the addresses without first giving owners a chance to defend themselves in court.

Puerto 80, the owner of rojadirecta.com and rojadirecta.org, said in a court filing that the seizures by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials constituted a prior restraint on the Free Speech rights of users, some of whom are US citizens or aliens residing in the US. Prior to the January 31 action, the site received “well over” 1 million visitors a day and was listed among the 100 most popular sites in Spain in terms of traffic.

“Puerto 80 is incurring substantial hardship due to the government's seizure of the subject domain names and its failure to take action on Puerto 80's request for return of the subject domain names,” the petition, filed Monday in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, stated. “In particular, the seizure blocks all traffic to the site via the subject domain names, damaging Puerto 80's goodwill and risking the permanent loss of its users.”

Officials with ICE, which is an enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, confiscated the domains under an initiative designed to disrupt websites accused of selling or distributing counterfeit goods and copyrighted works. Dubbed Operation in our Sites, it allows officials to file secret applications in court for the seizures that become public only after a judge has approved the request.

So far, at least 92 domain names have been seized under the program.

ICE officials have claimed the Rojadirecta website violated US sports teams' copyrights and trademarks by offering links to sites that offered unauthorized live streaming of games. Puerto 80 doesn't host any of the videos or other content, and the US government has never alleged otherwise. The site has twice been declared by Spanish courts to be operating legally.

Under the campaign, the government seizes domain names issued by or under the control of US-based registrars or webhosts. That causes people who type the names into browsers to be directed to a page that says it has been seized by “ICE – Homeland Security Investigations.” The seizures have no effect on the servers or underlying IP addresses used to run the sites, so the sites remain available to those who use a Firefox addon or other technologies to work around the action.

Attorneys for Puerto 80 said their initial requests that the government return the domains were ignored until they threatened to file a petition in court. Then, they agreed to reverse the action only if Rojadirecta operators agreed to block users anywhere in the world from linking to any US content.

The Rojadirecta attorneys said they wouldn't agree to those terms.

Monday's petition represents the first formal challenge to Operation in our Sites. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE accused of silencing customer gripes on social media pages
Hello. HELLO. Can EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE HEAR ME?!
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?