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US Government Seizes Torrent Search Engine Domain 305

Voulnet writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "This morning, visitors to the Torrent-Finder.com site are greeted with an ominous graphic which indicates that ICE has seized the site's domain. 'My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!' the exasperated owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak this morning. 'I firstly had DNS downtime. While I was contacting GoDaddy, I noticed the DNS had changed. GoDaddy had no idea what was going on and until now they do not understand the situation and they say it was totally from ICANN,' he explained. Aside from the fact that domains are being seized seemingly at will, there is a very serious problem with the action against Torrent-Finder. Not only does the site not host or even link to any torrents whatsoever, it actually only returns searches through embedded iframes which display other sites that are not under the control of the Torrent-Finder owner."
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US Government Seizes Torrent Search Engine Domain

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  • by Tovias ( 798585 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @12:39PM (#34350696) Homepage
    How long before the government takes control of sites that hosts or links to information that the government just doesn't like or deems "unpatriotic"? What kind of oversight is involved before the government can just take down a site? I'm not pro-piracy or advocating it in any way, but I'm definitely all for due process.
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @12:42PM (#34350716) Journal
    Good to see the US Gov has its priorities right.

    I'm sure everyone in the US can sleep easy at night, knowing that Homeland Security is keeping a vigilant eye over torrents and other similar threats to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
  • by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @12:48PM (#34350758)
    Unless you've been living behind Jupiter, you probably have figured out that the government is for sale to the highest bidder. You can bet that the RIAA, MPA, etc. have all made their political donations and now are cashing in. Most legislation in America is written by lobbyists anyway. But it's nice that the DHS is keeping us safe not just in the skies, but online as well.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @12:48PM (#34350766) Homepage

    I'm sure everyone in the US can sleep easy at night, knowing that Homeland Security is keeping a vigilant eye over torrents and other similar threats to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

    Have you missed the parts lately where protection of US copyrights is a matter of national security?

    Why do you think that god awful ACTRA treaty is being pushed down everyone else's throats?

    Expect this to become commonplace -- anything which can deemed to have a primary function of telling people where to download copyrighted works will be squashed quite thoroughly. I fully expect the RIAA/MPAA to allow the rest of us to use the internet under their terms now.

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @12:50PM (#34350788) Journal

    What kind of oversight is involved before the government can just take down a site?

    Thats the thing - apparently there isn't any! The site owner didn't know what was going on, and even his web host had to do some investigating to figure it out. If neither of them were adequately informed about whats going on - that suggests some serious inbalance in power. People worried about an Internet Kill Switch? This demonstrates they already effectively have access to such a mechanism.

    And given that the site doesn't hosts the files themselves, only links to other sites - NONE of this should have happened. This is no different then me going "Hit Movie Torrent" in Google and clicking on a link that takes me to the sites with Torrents. Why hasn't Google been taken offline? In fact I'm sure most people who want to get into Torrenting go use Google to find the Bittorrent application. Then they use Google to find a torrent site.

    It's injustice, they aren't blindly applying law as it should be - they're picking and choosing who they want. And the laws they've posted on the Torrent-finder aren't even relevant! Wilful Copyright infringement: Torrent finder isn't infringing on the copyrights. They are not hosting or distributing them either. Trafficking counterfeit goods - not only is a direct copy of the data not counterfeit but again, they aren't the ones trafficking the data.

  • Durr hurr (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, 2010 @12:52PM (#34350800)

    > "Not only does the site not host or even link to any torrents whatsoever, it actually only returns searches through embedded iframes which display other sites that are not under the control of the Torrent-Finder owner."

    When is the nerd class collectively going to get over its spergtastic fantasy that the technical letter of the law is far more important than its intent? (For that matter, how is an iframe not a link, or even opening an iframe showing one not 'providing' it?) This kind of blatant attempt at an end run is the IT equivalent of "I didn't kill him, your Honor, bleeding out killed him" and serves as nothing more than a tacit admission of guilt to anyone who doesn't spend their evenings and weekends fighting holy wars over technical minutiae.

    Then again, it's not even relevant in this case, as it appears to be a mass seizure of property held by a group which imports counterfeit goods.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, 2010 @12:57PM (#34350824)

    If only we had a powerful idealogical liberal/progressive government in control, we could halt this wave of warrentless searches and seisures....

    O wait... meet the new boss... I forgot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:01PM (#34350858)

    They have done things like this before.

    [citation needed]

    Really? Do you not read slashdot that often? Search Slashdot archives. There's your citation.

  • Re:Durr hurr (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phyrexianshaw.ca ( 1265320 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:04PM (#34350874) Homepage
    In your analogy, it would be like saying:

    "I didn't kill him your honor: all I did was point out who did."

    posting a link to other content is not in any way analogous to killing someone. hell, in this case it helped the copyright police FIND the infringers.

    to me, this is like taking a Private Investigator to court for "not reporting a crime before it had sufficient evidence to even know what was going on was a crime."
  • by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:05PM (#34350882)

    I can't wait for Obama to be inaugurated!

  • by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:06PM (#34350896) Homepage
    Isn't due process a constitutionally guaranteed right in the US?
  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:09PM (#34350930) Journal

    It should be. If I were the site owner, I would start a giant lawsuit in the multi-millions for damages caused. Not only for lost traffic (thus lost revenue) but also damages to their reputation.

  • by windcask ( 1795642 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:12PM (#34350960) Homepage Journal

    Wake up, man. The rights of the individual are not a partisan issue. Progressives will stand behind you if you want to shit on the Bible or burn the flag, sure, but they'll be the first to sign a bill to keep you from smoking or eating French Fries.

    So how does this relate? Neither side really cares about individual rights except when it relates to their talking points or agenda, so don't expect either to be free of the influence of the entertainment industry.

  • by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:12PM (#34350964)
    Actually it wasnt the "site owner", it was a DNS redirect. Or in the hacking world a "DNS poison" initiated by the government, owners and controllers of ICANN.
  • by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:20PM (#34351032) Homepage

    I think they pay them in Ireland, actually, and at a nicely reduced rate, too :)

  • Re:Notification (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:23PM (#34351058) Homepage Journal

    Well, the phone +011 20 12 157-8967 would resolve to a mobile number in Egypt, the area code being non location-specific.

    +011 20 3 441-1838 (the fax number) would resolve to Alexandria, Egypt, area code 3 and all.

    201-215-78967 doesn't work as a DC-area number.

    So let's believe the contact data and stipulate that Waleed lives in Egypt.

    Also, he registered some other domains that have names consistent with an Arab-based business. And DHS might, just might, have some other interest in an Egyptian web site than just torrents, though the content it linked to might be the problem.

    I'm not happy with these confiscations, but this doesn't seem to be as pointless as it might.

    Oh well, another great story shot to hell.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:40PM (#34351166) Journal
    So? Due process does not involve informing the criminals* that you are shutting them down. Due process means getting court approval. Just because neither the website owner nor hosting service were informed does not mean that due process was not followed. Lack of communication does not imply lack of due process.

    I am not saying that hosting a torrent site, or even linking to a torrent site is criminal.
  • by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @01:47PM (#34351222) Homepage
    Doesn't it require due process in order to label a particular act as criminal in the first place? And doesn't that involve the right to defend your act before it's labelled as criminal?
  • by Ethidium ( 105493 ) <chia_tek@ y a h o o . c om> on Friday November 26, 2010 @02:08PM (#34351348) Homepage Journal
    It is, and it's a fair question. Assuming that this is a real seizure and not a hoax, the due process works like this:

    0) Somebody allegedly uses property for an illegal purpose. By law, they are deemed to have transferred title to the United States Government by dint of the illegal activity (if in fact the illegal activity can be proved).

    1) The government files for a seizure warrant in US District Court. The owner of the property (here, the domain) does not get a say, nor any notice that this is happening.

    2) The government seizes the property and provides notice to the owner, if known, and any person who might have a claim on it. For example, if the property is a car with a bank lien, they must notify the owner and the bank.

    3a) The government files a complaint for forfeiture in US District Court (or in state court). This is called an "in rem" action--meaning that it's not a lawsuit against an individual, but a suit to determine title to property. The United States claims that it owns the property because of the transfer-by-law that occurred at zero, supra. Anybody who disagrees can stake their claim. The judge determines who gets the stuff.

    3b) The government doesn't file anything, and the owner sues the government for a civil rights violation by unlawful taking of property without due process. The suit proceeds as above.


    The cases determining whether due process has to occur pre-seizure or post-seizure are complicated, and beyond the scope of this author's knowledge or this post.

    For reference, I am a lawyer and have posted this explanation based on my legal study, but it should be considered scholarship (information for general knowledge) and not legal advice (information specific to an individual's problems). If you are in need of legal advice, you should consult a qualified lawyer in your jurisdiction.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @02:32PM (#34351556) Homepage

    Is "pushing down everyone throats" the new American general-purpose substitute for "I disagree with this proposal" or does it have meaning beyond that?

    First of all, I'm not an American.

    Second of all, a treaty which was negotiated in private and the text of the treaty kept secret ... well, not so much with the democratic bits.

    Third, there was a lot of pressure from US for other nations to adopt this under threat of trade sanctions. The objections of groups in countries where this was being brought in was more or less ignored.

    This is entirely a law that is designed to protect copyright interests, at the insistence of the US, and to the detriment of everybody else. The Internet is now subservient to the RIAA and MPAA, as well as their corresponding lobby groups in other countries -- hell they wrote most of the text, so the law will be stacked in their favor with things like mandatory three strikes laws to cut people off from having internet access.

    So, yes, it means a hell of a lot more than "I disagree with this proposal".

    Maybe you should do a little research on this heavily contested treaty.

  • Re:EXIF Info (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metrometro ( 1092237 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @02:47PM (#34351660)

    Not a lot of Macs at the federal government. And none of them running the latest version of Photoshop. A torrent search engine, on the other hand, may somehow have access to the latest software.

  • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @03:17PM (#34351870) Journal

    Although traditionally it is common for people on Slashdot to ask "Do you have any references for that unlikely and troll-like statement of alleged fact you just surprised me with?" and [Citation Needed] is a de facto way of expressing such sentiments for illiterate and lazy people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, 2010 @03:53PM (#34352112)

    Do you have any idea what procedural Due Process actually is?

    Legally, it is two things: (a) Notice and (b) the meaningful opportunity to respond.

    "... statutes, regulations, and enforcement actions must ensure that no one is deprived of "life, liberty, or property" without a fair opportunity to affect the judgment or result." (Wikipedia)

  • Morons. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @03:58PM (#34352162) Homepage Journal
    well done. what have you done ? NOTHING.

    it wont take half a day until the backups of those sites are restored in european, russian or chinese domains, in those countries' hosting outlets, and tracking just like how they did before.

    you morons not only cost u.s. the control of internet, and made ICANN come out like a lapdog of american government, instead of an INTERNATIONAL corporation you were pretending it to be, but also cost innumerable small and medium size web hosting and datacenter businesses their customers.

    not to mention the effect when that sector shrinks it will affect a lot of jobs, ranging from network administration, to tech support, web development to web design.

  • by flowwolf ( 1824892 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @04:31PM (#34352462)
    I was under the impression that sites like 4chan did not log IP addresses at all. They make sure there is no logged record of any connections to their servers. This is what I am led to believe anyways.
  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @05:47PM (#34353194) Homepage

    Based on the wording on the notice, if this was actually done by the government it was done under seizure laws.

    Seizure is a legal principle where no human being is accused of a crime. Instead, the government files a complaint against the property itself, and then finds it guilty of crime. The constitution only grants human rights to humans, so the theory is that all those constitutional protections don't apply.

    The fact that the property actually belongs to a human being isn't of great concern to the courts, apparently.

    Of course, this is nothing more than an end-run around due process. If somebody tried to do this back in the 1780s there would have been lots of tar and feathers involved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, 2010 @07:02PM (#34353754)

    Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

    Ignorance of the law became an excuse the moment it became impossible for a single person of average intelligence to learn off the entire legal code. The law may not recognise that excuse, but mere laws do not dictate right and wrong, merely "legal" and "illegal" - concepts no longer worthy of respect since the legal system has been captured by psychopaths.

  • by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Friday November 26, 2010 @08:05PM (#34354248) Homepage Journal
    Just don't do business with American hosting companies. The government may not realize it, but in the long run, the only ones who'll suffer from fucked up decisions like this one is the IT industry.
  • Re:Hoax (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Saturday November 27, 2010 @02:24AM (#34356356) Homepage Journal

    Confirmed... where confirmed.

    You are spouting random giberish and then declared confirmed!

    The disinformation in this thread is just appalling, but more concerning are the mods who just up anything that seems serious.

  • by MeatBag PussRocket ( 1475317 ) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @02:30AM (#34356370)

    and yet for the sake of campaign contributions corporations are people, funny how that works, eh?

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley