Senator Ron Wyden Demanding Answers From Homeland Security For Operation In Our Sites Program

Posted Dec 10, 2011

Senator Ron Wyden is not thrilled about the way that the Department of Homeland Security seized domain names. The Homeland Security’s Operation In Our Sites program seized a hip-hop music review website for a year without giving the owner a chance to challenge it.

?I expect the administration will be receiving a series of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests from our office and that the senator will have very pointed questions with regard to how the administration chooses to target the sites that it does,? stated Wyden spokesman Jennifer Hoelzer. She said that Wyden was ?particularly interested in learning how many secret dockets exist for copyright cases. There doesn?t seem to be an obvious precedent or explanation for that.?

Wyden became interested in the case one day after federal authorities returned the domain name came back online yesterday with the message: “This site could soon be blocked if the US Congress passes a new internet censorship bill.”

Currently the federal government has the power to seize web domains under the same forfeiture laws that are used for taking control of houses, cars, and boats. The government has seized about 350 domain names total. was taken down because of Operation In Our Sites and was accused for allowing users to download pre-released music. However it turns out that a lot of the music was sent to the blog by the artists or the labels.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department (ICE) pointed out that four songs on the website are in violation of copyright law. Three of them were e-mailed to the website by record executives associated with labels that are a part of the RIAA. The RIAA actually created the complaint and sent it to ICE. ICE insists that websites that are taken down can challenge any seizures.