ICE vows to continue domain name seizures

ICE Director John Morton says the DHS will continue to seize domain names suspected of engaging in copyright infringement. 

Morton – who recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives – also insisted the seizures were perfectly congruent with “respecting free speech” and “providing due process.”

“The Operation In Our Sites initiative will continue through 2011 and beyond. ICE’s efforts through this operation successfully disrupt the ability of criminals to purvey copyrighted materials illegally over the Internet,” Morton claimed in a statement obtained by TorrentFreak.

“In addition to the domain names that are seized through this operation, evidence suggests that the operation has a deterrent effect. In fact, following Operations In Our Sites v. 1.0, ICE was notified that 81 of the most active websites that had been offering pirated material voluntarily shut down.”

Morton added that Operation In Our Sites was planned in cooperation with the Department of Justice (DoJ) to ensure the preservation of free speech, due process and execution within a statutory framework.

“Domain names seized under Operation In Our Sites are seized only in furtherance on ongoing criminal investigations into violations of U.S. federal laws,” he said. 

As TG Daily previously reported, a number of legislators, including US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), have expressed concern to the DHS over its controversial policy of frenetically seizing domain names.

“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,” Wyden wrote in a recent letter to the DHS.

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