US Government seizes 307 domains in the defense of the NFL
This falls into the category of the sort of news that’s significant, but is relegated to the back pages, while the diversionary infotainment that informs you of nothing is in the headlines. Here’s the story:
While many sports fans are preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl by organizing parties and shopping for TVs, the U.S. government is preparing in a different way. Just yesterday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency seized 307 different domains suspected of violating NFL copyrights. Of those, 16 were suspected of illegal streaming. The rest were allegedly selling counterfeit NFL merchandise.
The seizure was conducted under U.S. civil law, not criminal law. That means the affected parties need to prove that the internet domains were not engaging in illegal activity to get them back — an ugly mirror image of the country’s usual “innocent until proven guilty” right. Many of the domains were not being operated by U.S. groups. Because they used U.S. domain suffixes .net, .com, and .org, however, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was empowered to act.
Visitors to any of the seized domains are now greeted by a message from ICE explaining the takedown. According to the government, these messages have already been viewed over 77 million times yesterday alone.
The story indicates that “many” domains were being operated by groups outside the US, hence the involvement of Homeland Security and US Immigration, but doesn’t say exactly how many. “Many” is a sort of word that’s highly subjective and doesn’t preclude that there may have also ”many” groups that were US based. Regardless of where they were based, all have to prove that they weren’t engaging in illegal activity—in other words, they’re guilty until they establish innocence. For the legitimate US based businesses, that won’t do them much good at this point as by the time they get around to that, the Super Bowl and the money making opportunity it provides will have passed. I read somewhere that the way to get around this is to have a foreign domain, but it’s a bit late in the day for that at this point as well. So what we have here is the US Government security infrastructure protecting private business interests by deciding who’s going to be in business and who will not. If you needed confirmation why our vast and growing security state exists, this would appear to give an insight to its purpose and function.
This same security state, which includes the justice department, seemingly couldn’t do anything to prosecute those responsible for the robo-signing mortgage frauds— which have far broader impacts in the economy and which are largely responsible for the mess we’re in now — until here of late and it’s uncertain at this point whether or not this is merely a populist election year ploy. The point in making this comment is to not get into a partisan fray here as I truly believe that there’s really very little difference between what the current administration has done on this front versus what a McCain administration, a Romney administration or a Clinton administration would have done. So the indictment here is really not against the Obama administration so much as the political system in its entirety. Those who happen to occupy key positions in the executive and legislative branches of our government are figureheads and are there for us to vent our anger on and fight about in the left-right paradigm. The real control, which is behind the scenes, is constant and controls that paradigm. This is why certain policies are consistent across so called liberal or conservative majorities/administrations.