Judicial Watch • ICE Keeps Seizing Music Sharing Websites

ICE Keeps Seizing Music Sharing Websites

ICE Keeps Seizing Music Sharing Websites

MAY 25, 2011

The Homeland Security agency primarily responsible for shielding the country from foreign threats and removing dangerous illegal immigrants has been quite busy confiscating internet websites that help users download copyrighted music and movies.Its part of the Obama Administration’s effort to regulate the internet and control its content, though the official explanation is that the government simply wants to crack down on piracy and protect intellectual property. The feds are seizing the domains seemingly at will, according to industry insiders who claim that many don’t even host copyrighted material.So far Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has shut down 128 file-sharing music and movie websites as part of “Operation In Our Sites.” Anyone who clicks on the confiscated domains is greeted with a message that says they’ve been seized by ICE-Homeland Security investigations and reminds that copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.Six websites were seized over the weekend, according to a blog that covers digital issues and has closely tracked the government operation since it was launched last year. All were shut down without warning because they were “associated with copyright infringement and counterfeiting.” The owner of one domain said the seizure was “pointless” and will soon be back with a different name.Halting the unauthorized sharing of hip-hop tunes may seem strange for a federal agency that claims on its web site to have a primary mission of promoting homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. All the while, ICE fails to do its most important job of deporting violent illegal immigrant criminals and punishing companies that knowingly hire large numbers of undocumented workers.A number of cases in the last year help illustrate the agency’s shortcomings in these areas. For instance a drunken illegal alien with a criminal history and a revoked license killed a nun inVirginia because ICE released him on his own recognizance after two previous arrests. Judicial Watch has sued the Department of Homeland Security for records related to how the agency dropped the ball in the tragic case.A few weeks after the nun’s death another illegal alien, released by the agency while he awaited deportation, killed two people in a working-class Massachusetts city. A number of similar cases have also been reported through the years.ICE has also been derelict in punishing companies that hire large numbers of illegal immigrants, even after audits determine rampant violations. Internal ICE records obtained by a Houstonnewspaper last year reveal that the agency has allowed hundreds of companies throughout the U.S. to get away with hiring illegal aliens by closing audits that determine high percentages of workers with “questionable” documents. Maybe if the businesses download pirate music, they’ll get busted.

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