Jul 21, 2010

The Internet Obamanation

Jack KinsellaBy Jack Kinsella
The Omega Letter

The US federal government recently "took action" against several websites connected with movie streaming and peer-to-peer file sharing.

What "taking action" means is that the federal government has ordered a free blogging platform taken down by its hosting provider on the grounds the website has a "history of abuse."

In order to shut down the handful of 'offending' sites, the government also had to shut down seventy-three thousand different blogs hosted there.

"Hot on the heels of recent threats from Vice President Joe Biden and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel directed at sites offering unauthorized movies and music, last month U.S. authorities targeted several sites they claimed were connected to the streaming of infringing video material."

'Operation In Our Sites' targeted several sites including TVShack.net, Movies-Links.TV, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org, ZML.com, NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net. In almost unprecedented action, the domain names of 7 sites were seized and indications are that others – The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload – narrowly avoided the same fate."
Blogetery.com, hosted by Burstnet.com, had been in operation for seven months before the site simply vanished.
“All of the users are without service just like when the Pirate Bay raids happened and all the people who were on the host sites were also taken down,” pointed out an annoyed Blogetery user who contacted TorrentFreak. “I have lost my personal site also and I don’t have any way to contact the owner since his contact info was on the blogetery.com site & that was the only way to contact him.”
The scariest part of it all is the cloak of secrecy that shrouds the entire affair. The government won't explain the reasons behind it and Burstnet has evidently been sworn to secrecy. Burstnet explained in an emmail:
"Bn.xx*********** was terminated by request of law enforcement officials, due to material hosted on the server. We are limited as to the details we can provide to you, but note that this was a critical matter and the only available option to us was to immediately deactivate the server.
The seven seized domains are TVShack.net, Movies-Links.TV, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org and ZML.com.

The government ordered far more than simply deactivating the server and the seventy-three thousand blogs - most of which were perfectly legal and legitimate.
"In addition to the domain seizures, agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized assets from 15 bank, PayPal, investment and other advertising accounts. Four residential search warrants were also executed."

"The other two domains targeted – NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net – belong to the hugely popular streaming service NinjaVideo. According to authorities the site had been subjected to a months-long operation which resulted in the seizure of both their domains and website content."
So that explains the nine sites the government says it was after. What were the other 72,991 blogsites about?

Burstnet isn't allowed to say and the government flatly refuses. But if you had a blog there, it's gone, along with all its contents.

I wonder how many blogs Burstnet was hosting that were pro-Obama?
"Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you." (Habakkuk 1:5)
Although IP Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel altogether with Vice President Joe Biden have been voicing such threats recently, the domain seizure action came as a surprise.

How could the federal authorities seize these websites so easily? The answer is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

ICANN is the body responsible for the Internet DNS system. Its mission is to ensure users can access sites by using domain names. It was ICANN who transferred those seven domains to the US authorities, after ICANN agreed with the feds that the domains broke their terms and conditions

Insofar as anyone can tell, the website seizures were accomplished without due process. What the feds ordered ICANN to do is called "domain hijacking" and it would be a criminal offense if committed by any other entity besides the US federal government.

While the domains, content data and financial accounts were all seized, there were no arrests and no criminal charges filed. In essence, the federal government involved itself in a civil matter that ordinarily would be under the jurisdiction of the courts.

The complaintants, (record companies, movie producers, etc.,) would ordinarily file a complaint with a civil court providing documented proof of a copyright infringement and the court would issue an injunction against the offending website.

In this instance, the federal government decided to cut through the red tape and simply seize the websites. I am not defending movie or music piracy - what is significant here is the ease with which the federal government was able to hijack their domains.

The 4th Amendment heavily restricts the government's right to seize property, intellectual or otherwise, without due process.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The federal government's seizure of 73,000 blogsites was accomplished largely in secret, without due process, warrants and other trappings of freedom based on some nebulous argument that NINE of the domains on that server were in violation of US copyright laws.

There were no allegations of terrorism. No allegations of criminal activity apart from copyright violations. And no allegations made of any kind against the 72,991 blogsites that were seized along with the pirate sites.

Was the government really after those nine pirate sites? Most of them have been on the internet for years. Or were they simply a cover for eliminating thousands of blogs critical of the Obama administration?

Admittedly, I don't know what those other 72,991 blogs were about. But the polls support the speculation that there are far more blogsites on the internet that are critical of Obama than there are in support of his administration.

And a tour of the blogosphere also tends to suggest that the internet is not particularly Obama-friendly.

The Obama administration has been at war with the internet since even before there was an Obama administration. Obama set up his "Fight the Smears" website while he was still a candidate.

His campaign developed a task force aimed at "correcting the record" about his background, his eligibility and other issues the campaign didn't want being spread around the internet. The campaign even asked supporters to inform them about anti-Obama websites.

Government control of the US-based internet is now a fait accompli. The Omega Letter has been on the internet for nearly nine years and the LAST thing we anticipated back in 2001 was having to worry about a US government takeover of the internet.

That is my fault. I should have. I've been warning that it was coming for almost nine years. Now it's here. But I still can't believe it.

One thing is certain, however. Now that the camel's nose is in the tent, it won't be long until the rest of the camel follows it. It is long past time to prepare a contingency plan.

But if we were a porn site, we'd have nothing to worry about. Welcome to the Obamanation.

Related Links
Obama's War on the Internet - Uruk Net
Web host criticized for closing blog service - CNET
A Year After Honeymoon Ends, Whites, Men and Independents Desert Obama - Wall Street Journal (Blog)
Lieberman’s Model For America: Purging The Internet of Dissent - Prison Planet
Commerce Department, ICANN and VeriSign Deploy New Cyber Technology - ExecutiveBiz
The Last Generation - Jack Kinsella (Book)