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Further Freedom Attacks (daeken.com)
191 points by daeken on Nov 27, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

People are having a hard time understanding how this could be happening. Perhaps these people don't get out much. What's happening here is simple: the federal government is using Civil Asset Forfeiture for IP/copyright enforcement.

Particularly when armed with a court order, the government has broad authority to seize property that can either be traced to the proceeds of a crime, or that can be shown to be used in furtherance of a crime. This comes up all - the - time in drug enforcement, where the police use it to seize vehicles used to run drugs. All that appears to be happening here is that the government is applying it to copyright enforcement.

The Libertarian magazine Reason has been covering the increased use (and misuse) of civil asset forfeiture for years now. It ticked up during the Bush years, and has been validated multiple times during the Obama presidency.

In particular, note that there are due process protections with strict statutory timelines attached to them for challenging civil seizures. One doubts many of these enterprises will avail themselves of those procedures; most would probably lose, and it's simpler just to host offshore.

"Why, oh why, is DHS and ICE doing the RIAA's work for them?" Because it's part of their charter. The "C" in ICE stands for Customs. Customs deals with counterfeiting (it's an importation issue), and hosts a large IPR enforcement division. No, the RIAA has not wheedled its way into DHS and refocused homeland security on copyright enforcement.

Civil asset forfeiture can get very sketchy. I wish there were more bright-line limitations on what the government can and can't do with it. The impression that I have is that in the majority of cases where it's applied, you generally want LEO's to have the power to seize what they're seizing. But every once in awhile, they pull some 60 year old guy over with the cash down payment he was going to make for his new pickup truck, declare him a drug dealer, and end up pocketing the cash because he can't find a lawyer. That's a miscarriage of justice. In light of it, I have a hard time feeling too sorry for people who lose their pirate music storefront sites.

I like 'daeken (I work with him!), and I know and respect that he has a very different take on intellectual property than I do, but his take on this seems a bit breathless.

> I like 'daeken (I work with him!), and I know and respect that he has a very different take on intellectual property than I do, but his take on this seems a bit breathless.

Quite honestly, this was a post written in about 20 minutes simply due to being upset and wondering "when is my own domain going down?". I didn't figure it'd be hitting the top of HN and get this much attention, otherwise I probably would've made it considerably more coherent, and less emotional.

A. Do you have any references/evidence saying that this is the legal doctrine being used?

B. Civil Forfeiture is indeed evil and dubious. IF it were expanded and applied to everything to which one could imagine, we would indeed be living in dictatorship. It's kind of a bleeding whole in rule-of-law, one that hasn't been expanded too much recently - I could only wildly speculate that they hadn't wanted negative attention for it. In any case, this is a good reason to be against it.

If you read the story, look at the landing page ICE set up on the seized domains, and then Google the two US Code references on that page, you'll see they were both civil forfeiture statutes.

You write as if your understanding of asset forfeiture was "the government can simply take whatever it wants whenever it wants". That isn't the case at all. It's called "civil" forfeiture because the government is suing for the property. There's a court case and everything. It is, essentially, the exact opposite of what the article we're commenting on claims it is.

You write as if your understanding of asset forfeiture was "the government can simply take whatever it wants whenever it wants". That isn't the case at all. It's called "civil" forfeiture because the government is suing for the property.

Taking "whatever they can get away with" is quite different from "whatever they want".

Whether authorized by a judge or not, a procedure involving "take first then you've got to sue us", is a violation of the basic rule of law - the requirement to face your accuser before any property can be taken. This goes back to the constitution and even the Magna Carta.

I mean, There was no service or trial in the situation described. Judge-authorization for lawless act is just a dodge Otherwise, we'll go the system of "Judge Dred" ("Judge, Jury and executioner") http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd

See my other comment in this thread. It's "all right" because it's the property being sued, i.e. the domain name itself, not the holder of the domain name (yes, you read that correctly). That's how they get away without due process for the holder, it's irrelevant since they're officially a 3rd party.

I'm sure the domain name was properly impressed by the judge's warrant when it surrendered to the US Marshals or whomever.

It's simply not correct to assert that the property owner has no due process rights. You obviously don't approve of the specific process accorded to property owners, but words mean things.

I mean due process in the seizure. They're allowed to contest the seizure afterward.

In much the same sense as they're allowed to contest an arrest... after they're arrested.

This seems kind of silly to me. On approximately the same evidentiary standard, any law enforcement order could achieve a warrant for arrest and directly deprive the operators of these sites of their liberties. Here, all they lost was their domain name.

I'm not interested in an argument about civil forfeiture, not least because we probably already agree more than we disagree (but nobody will know that because now the Magna Carta has been invoked and there's not enough oxygen left in the capsule for both of us). I'm just saying, this isn't some crazy new censorship regime dreamed up by the RIAA and the DHS. This is absolutely part of Customs' charter.

On approximately the same evidentiary standard, any law enforcement order could achieve a warrant for arrest and directly deprive the operators of these sites of their liberties. Here, all they lost was their domain name.

Again, I think your "how badly do they get hurt" standard is wrong-headed.

Democracy isn't really about limiting how much authorities do to people. It's limiting how easily and privately authorities can do things. Yes, it is about making thing hard for the authorities because when it somewhat hard to act against people, authorities are more reluctant to act.

IE, the difference between seizure and arrest is if you arrest these people, you've committed yourself to going through the process of proving them guilty.

If a cop writes a ticket, they have to show up in court to defend the valid of the ticket. If the cop just takes money, they aren't committed to their action.

If the various website were engaging in counterfeiting or whatever, the actual job of these agencies is to find the people and arrest them. Shutting off a site will only slow things down slightly - but it does give a far-too-convenient tool to authorities

It is important for democracy that guilty people be proven guilty. A lesser standard will likely still get lots of guilty people but will open the door to despotism as well. I know it stands in the way of blood-lust for the guilty but thems the break - unless you've found a way to achieve a guaranteed-enlighten-despotism (it always sounded good in the past but never worked out).

No, the government is suing the property: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_forfeiture#United_States

Yes, you read that correctly. As in USA v. $124,700: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_v._$124,700

Follow the "jurisdiction in rem" link for more about how this ... unique doctrine developed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurisdiction_in_rem

And the first example of the doctrine provided on the Wikipedia page dates to (drum roll) 1828.

Perhaps I've been the victim of hyperbole, but I've read and heard of numerous instances where asset seizure has been and is used to fund a significant portion of the seizing authority's budget.

If that doesn't have the potential for "conflict of interest" written all over it, I don't know what does.

You realize of course that you're only going to hear about the asset forfeiture cases where the process is abused. The rest of the cases --- which vastly outnumber the abuses --- are boring.

Moreover, virtually every abuse case I've read about has occurred on a local (sometimes even municipal) level. Have you read a lot about federal law enforcement abusing asset forfeiture procedures?

I find situations like this extremely difficult to understand. I really don't get it at all.

Either we have a system where you are innocent until proven guilty, have a right to a fair trial, good evidence has to exist, you have a right to privacy, a right to trial by jury, no corruption, no torture, etc. etc. or we don't. That's it.

We are continually chasing our tail re-asking questions about when each of these things is appropriate and when they are not. So here's my solution: we make a list. Each time people ask these same questions again and again and again, we point at the list. It'd save billions of dollars too, I bet.

It's the perpetuation of a fraud. Even if we presume our people were committed to these ideas, which they aren't anymore, the commitment quickly erodes once you become the one with the power to "expedite" or skirt these protections. Until the character of all those involved in government is pure, government is going to attempt to make "special exceptions" (read: not really that special) and fear monger the whole way so that people stay off their backs.

It is crucial to the preservation of our liberties that The People frequently reassess how well we are following these principles and that they exert their sovereign authority to ensure that they are followed by our representatives and administrators as closely as possible.

Now, does our populace do this anymore? I don't think they do. I think they are mostly concerned with and distracted by social issues (which are important, but have become a huge distraction to all other forms of policy) and let everything else slide until Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann feign outrage to further political or commercial agenda.

It's all a lost cause in my opinion. The People are corrupt and the Government is certainly corrupt. What can we do now? We just have to wait for the inevitable implosion.

It would help somewhat if, when such a movement actually does arise, people paid a little less attention to the smears put out there by leadership of the government, and the part of the media that fancies itself part of the government, and paid more attention to the actual content of the movement, or perhaps even translated the movement to its own side.

Yes, I'm talking about the Tea Party, and let me not be subtle: If you think the government is corrupt and the people need to rise up and everyone is just in everyone else's pockets, then you believe what those exact same powers and people say about an actual public uprising, maybe you need to reconsider how effective your very-justified cynicism actually is. Perhaps even consider that the cynical idea that there is nothing you can do to change things is actually part of the package you are being fed. Yes, you may not agree with everything about the Tea Party, or even hardly anything other than the fact we could use a serious house cleaning, but maybe less time listening to the siren call of blind partisanism and those who use it to manipulate your opinions and more time spent cleaning up the left side of the house would be a more productive response.

(Hint: You don't actually have to believe the Tea Party is a uniform bunch of racist homophobic ignorant buffoons to disagree with them on some issues. You can simply... disagree. It's really quite easy when you get used to it. Then you can actually consider your own opinions in an environment where you don't have to constantly be testing them against an artificial standard of bugabooism erected by the dominant power structure to confine your thinking in just that way. You can believe in universal health care and the importance of welfare and social justice and still think it's time to clean out some incumbents and spend more wisely, even perhaps less overall, even if taxes still need to be raised. It's not actually contradictory.)

My comment was made outside of a partisan framework. The ideas in my post are not pages I've taken from any gloom-and-doom commentator. I don't like the Tea Party but I don't like their opponents either. If I thought there was a large contingent of good guys out there I would probably be less pessimistic about our nation's future.

I take an objective stance regarding contemporary politics and there are things I respect and things I detest about both major platforms and in general many politicians, though I tend to detest things about politicians much more often than I respect things about them.

I don't subscribe to the primary tenets of either party or any third-party; the largest influences on my politics come from religious sources. Perhaps you shouldn't presume that this opinion was not well-considered.

Sorry, "you" was meant as the generic "you" in that post, not specifically "cookiecaper". And I also tried to make the point that I'm being nonpartisan, too, it is simply that right now I lack the ability to name a name of an organization on the left that is actually trying to clean house rather than further entrench the current power structure. If I could you better believe I would.

But much of what you outline is actually happening to some degree, and events have forced me to admit that my previous cynicism was too much; if the ruling elite do manage to take civilization to hell in a handbasket, I can no longer say that everybody sat passively by and let it happen. "Most people" would still be fair, but there were people who saw it coming and however misguided you may think they were in their efforts, they actually did try to do something to stop it.

(I have to say "civilization" because the same basic disease seems to be everywhere, just not equally concentrated. Claiming that one country or another has more or less is just another distraction technique.)

(My position is that I'm a libertarian, but also a pragmatist. I would love to see a popular leftist movement rise up on the basic platform of "We want to care for people and we believe in a much more powerful and muscular government than this 'jerf' asshole thinks is wise, but it does no good to anybody to offer them unlimited health care and amazing retirement benefits and protected jobs for life and all this other great stuff if the government then goes bankrupt in five years, at which point all those guarantees become void. First we must make sure we can afford the things we want to do, then we can do them." In my opinion if you really believe in liberalism and leftism then the absolute most important thing for you to do right now is join hands with whoever it takes to make government spending sustainable, because without that basic foundation the government will not be able to do anything you want it to do, when it no longer exists. I'll happily argue about how much government is wise after we've made sure it'll still be there in twenty years.)

> It's all a lost cause in my opinion. The People are corrupt and the Government is certainly corrupt. What can we do now? We just have to wait for the inevitable implosion.

You know, you're probably right. In all likelihood, it's going to get much worse before it gets any better. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to make it better. We may fail, but at least we tried.

I agree that it's worth preaching an informed and intelligent political platform to those who are willing to receive it, and I agree that at least tokens of attempt are useful. I just think the expectation that things will change when our people are so hypnotized and over-exertion of energy to try to bring about sensible policy in these circumstances are futile. Call me a cynic, I guess.

  We may fail, but at least we tried.
That's the main thing, isn't it? </sarcasm>

I don't appreciate this type of humor, but Estragon is correct. A programmer, especially of the startup nature, should know this fact all too well:

In the real world it's not about how hard you tried, it's about results. Work smarter, not harder.

Not everything works that way. Some things require cooperation from more than a handful of people. You can launch a company and become very rich and successful even if only an infantesimal amount of people out there buy your product. You can't really change the political direction of a country, especially a large country like the US, without the cooperation and buy-in of a lot of people.

It's not going to happen. I say that with some surety based on dogma, but I think it's also evident from an intellectual perspective that the likelihood for a rebound to good political and general philosophy is not high. Our people bear the tell-tale signs of a decaying society; the arrogance, the skewed sense of invulnerability, the ignorance and decadence that characterize civilizations on the brink of collapse.

Our political landscape is becoming increasingly polarized and dangerous seeds of antagonism and hatred against the "other side" are being sown for political, personal, and commercial gain, and the people are devouring and internalizing this rhetoric nearly as quickly as it can be fed to them. I think it will be not many years hence that we start to see skirmishes, attacks, and other domestic disturbances that grow out of these movements, and I believe that it will only escalate from there.

It's not the fact that you tried that's important. It's that if you try, you have at least some chance of success; if you don't try, then failure is implied.

The fundamental problem is that liberties in the abstract are too hard for people to appreciate. It takes an old fashioned grope-fest at the airport to get anyone to notice anymore.

So the people aren't crazy or corrupt, they just have different priorities than you or I. The expression of which being that so long as you don't touch them, they'll abide almost anything in the name of security.

Never forget: "In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve."

Persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I don't think that presumption applies to non-persons. So, if the government is going directly after some thing used to commit an offense, as opposed to going after the people who used that thing, the standards might be different.

And yes, the government can go after things. This leads to some amusing court cases, typical dealing with smuggling attempts, where you'll have cases with amusing names like "United States vs. 34 Cases of Wine" or "United States vs. $150,252.32".

If people believed copying is stealing, then they believe it is in their moral right to shut down filesharing networks and all sort of things.

There are lot of people here that support anti-piracy effort of some kind and they won't be easily persuaded that people can make a living without copyright.

taps a bullet point on his imaginary list

* Due process [explanation why this exists goes here]

Doesn't matter whether you're pro or anti-copyright. Due process, limits on power, innocent until guilty are all relevant here. So let's use them. You either apply these ideas consistently or you lose them to exceptions.

Lost in the fuss over this is the fact that ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) did in fact get a warrant for these and previous domain seizures. Of course, ICE brought this paranoia on themselves, since their scary graphic doesn't include copies of the warrants, details of which courts issued them, or information about the procedure they went through to get them.

But the only person they have to notify is the registrant; and the standards for proof of service (of the warrant) in foreign domains is lower than that within the US. I'm not sure the owner of torrent-finder.com is necessarily an honest reporter - the court may not have provided him with any notice, though I find it hard to believe he's never ever received a complaint or warning of any kind that might tip him off to such an eventuality.

Incidentally, considering that all his contact details are still available via goDaddy's whois, it's a bit depressing that none of the media outlets reporting this so breathlessly have spent the $1 or so it would cost to call him up for a quote. And we wonder why the investigative reporting business is in such a poor state.

I think that anyone on the mainstream-media that read that post is scratching their heads wondering what a WHOIS record is.

I want to play devil's advocate here, and would love input from others as well, because if I'm right my thinking casts the govt. in a much less harsh light.

ICANN was created to manage DNS and IP address space on behalf of the govt. It's a non-profit that operates independently under a board of directors, and it's mandate comes from a Memorandum of Understanding which set up a relationship between ICANN and the U.S. govt. However, it still appears that ICANN is under the authority of the U.S. govt., although it is formally a non-profit corporation in California. I mean it's under U.S. authority sort of in the same way that the Bush administration could press telecoms to illegally wiretap communications at Folsom St. in San Francisco and elsewhere. Now, that warrant-less wiretapping was blatantly unconstitutional, because legally protected privacy was breached. However, these domain seizures are different, because nobody is guaranteed the right to use domain names; it's more of a privilege like driving. People don't have the "right" to drive cars. That's a privilege granted by states, and subject to their regulations and laws. If a person applied for a license and stated they only wanted to drive so they could rob banks and get away faster, I'm guessing they could be legally denied the license, no court case needed. Well, this appears to be a similar issue. It would make these seizures look like less of an overreach by the DHS.

The issues around DCMA are something different to address. I'm strictly talking about this domain seizure issue, and the claim of unconstitutional censorship. That may not be an accurate claim at all. It may be that we need to ensure ICANN is out of the jurisdiction of the U.S. govt.

Everyone has the right to drive a car, to eat a cheesburger, to buy a computer, an ipod, to drive a plane and own one.

We have the right to do anything and everything which is not prohibited by the law. On the other hand, the government can do only that which is allowed by the law.

Thus, we do have a right to own a domain, a domain is private property, the government has no right to cease it unless the legislature has given them the right and if the legislature has given them the right, then whether this right applies in an individual case is up to the court to decide who has the job of interpreting the law and applying it to the facts of individual cases.

Everyone has the right to drive a car

Well, let me clarify that. People have a right to drive cars on their own property. Everyone doesn't have the right to drive cars on public roads. If they did they wouldn't need a license, which can be revoked. At least, I believe that's how it works. Someone please correct me if that is not accurate.

I do agree a domain name should be considered private property. So, you're right that people should have the right to own domains. Apparently, in this case the domains were legally seized private property. So, it still seems to me, the only way to be totally free from paranoia about the govt. potentially seizing your domain is to have ICANN removed from U.S. jurisdiction.

Does anybody know why nobody has sued over this yet? it has to be blatantly unconstitutional.

I'm not an expert but it seems to be legal and even constitutional. It's offensive, but if you mad-libbed the story, I'm betting it would seem less offensive.

The US Government siezed __number__ of __noun plural__ because of suspected __illegal verb__.

I was upset when I read the headlines as well. Mostly because of what I inferred -- not because of what happened.

My only worry is that one sad effect of this precedent might be people having their domains taken from them because a small number of users use the service for illegal activity.

EDIT: There's another post on the front page right now which says what I wanted to say much more eloquently: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1946154

Because it happened yesterday?

Final sentence:

We cannot take this sitting down. This must not be allowed to stand.

So... We let it sit down, and we have to stand?

We stand up and knock it on its ass. This is a blatant violation of due process.

I'd like to see a list of those 70 domains.

2009jerseys.com, 51607.com, amoyhy.com, b2corder.com, bishoe.com, borntrade.com, borntrade.net, boxedtvseries.com, boxset4less.com, boxsetseries.com, burberryoutletshop.com, cartoon77.com, cheapscarfshop.com, coachoutletfactory.com, dajaz1.com, discountscarvesonsale.com, dvdcollectionsale.com, dvdcollects.com, dvdorderonline.com, dvdprostore.com, dvdscollection.com, dvdsetcollection.com, dvdsetsonline.com, dvdsuperdeal.com, eluxury-outlet.com, getdvdset.com, gofactoryoutlet.com, golfstaring.com, golfwholesale18.com, handbag9.com, handbagcom.com, handbagspop.com, icqshoes.com, ipodnanouk.com, jersey-china.com, jerseyclubhouse.com, jordansbox.com, lifetimereplicas.com, louis-vuitton-outlet-store.com, lv-outlets.com, lv-outlets.net, lv-outletstore.com, massnike.com, merrytimberland.com, mycollects.com, mydreamwatches.com, mygolfwholesale.com, newstylerolex.com, nfljerseysupply.com, nibdvd.com, odvdo.com, oebags.com, onsmash.com, overbestmall.com, rapgodfathers.com, realtimberland.com, rmx4u.com, scarfonlineshop.com, scarfviponsale.com, shawls-store.com, silkscarf-shop.com, silkscarfonsale.com, skyergolf.com, sohob2b.com, sohob2c.com, storeofeast.com, stuff-trade.com, sunglasses-mall.com, sunogolf.com, tbl-sports.com, throwbackguy.com, tiesonsale.com, timberlandlike.com, topabuy.com, torrent-finder.com, usaburberryscarf.com, usaoutlets.net

Opportunity for a quick score - reregister as many of those as possible under unregistered foreign TLDs, then sell for a hefty markup when those companies come looking for a safer TLD to reregister their domain under.



Did WIPO[1]/UDRP[2] play a role in this?

Assuming not, I'm curious, in your opinion, does the procedure WIPO uses to confiscate domain names provide sufficient due process?

[1] http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/search/index.html

[2] http://www.icann.org/en/udrp/udrp.htm

P.S. It would also be nice if you could cite where you learned about this story.

[Update]: saw the big section labeled "REFERENCES", forget my P.S.

Still beats syphilis experiments or sarin/VX testing.

But maybe not the evils the government commits tomorrow which we won't hear about because of censorship.

The arc of history is long but it bends toward freedom.

I agree completely. What I can't be sure of is whether these actions are indeed a step in the wrong direction- at least for the time being. Just maybe it's not what it seems.

When Bernanke starts recklessly printing money the way he did recently- that seems like a panic-driven survivalist effort to me, and I begin wondering if this isn't more of the same.

China's got us by the balls alright. I'm sure there's some twisting going on that only the government higher-ups can see, to warrant these reactions of late.

> China's got us by the balls alright.

Not sure about that. I think debtors have more power than creditors. After you have a client refuse to pay you, you start to see creditor/debtor power balance in a different light.

In the short term possibly, but in the long term refusing to pay a debt such as that would make it impossible for America to source credit.

Not sure about that either. I am not sure what I need to google to find this, but I seem to recall reading about countries that devalued their currency, but still were able to get financing. It doesn't necessarily need to be a refusal to pay per say. China asserts that it is their right to keep their currency artificially pegged to the dollar. On the same token, we can devalue our own.

I've been here for a while, and I already went through my six-month noob HN-is-reddit phase. That being said, in what possible way is this within the HN guidelines?

Putting this here because you don't have an email address:

- Upvoting an article is the group's way of saying, "This article has something interesting in it."

- Bad articles, spam, linkbait or things that don't fit in the guidelines or don't follow common sense usually get flagged and filtered out.

The post doesn't really seem to be outside of the guidelines. It may not meet your personal standard of quality, but the group likes it so it's on the front page. The best way to combat content that you think is spammy, irrelevant or wrong is to flag it.

I did flag it. I'm aware of the idea that people are supposed to upvote things that have something interesting in them. However, lately, it has been remarked elsewhere by people who are not me that politics have crept into the discussion well beyond the threshold of intellectual curiosity, and this was to me a flagrant example of something that in no way piqued anyone's intellectual curiosity, but instead triggered political feelings.

Things that are there for the purpose of intellectual intrigue do not have rallying cries for redistribution in bold as their first sentence, for example.

Also, I've observed the upvote vs. flag mechanism working for several years now. I agree that it does work in general. I posted this because I believe it is somewhat breaking down lately, in the form of political rallying cries reaching the front page.

Again, there's no way to contact you personally regarding this really off-topic thread, so I'll reply here.

I'll agree with you that there is an unfortunate rise in the amount of politically charged rhetoric lately, but I really don't care for navel gazing (which I think is a far more unfortunate result of online communities in their adolescence). However, I don't really think that this article "in no way piqued anyone's intellectual curiosity, but instead triggered political feelings." ... I'm not quite sure how "intellectual" curiosity differs from normal curiosity, but can you honestly say that there wasn't a single person who didn't find the article interesting enough to say, 'Hey, what this guy said was interesting! I'd like to investigate this issue further.'

>>Things that are there for the purpose of intellectual intrigue do not have rallying cries for redistribution in bold as their first sentence, for example.

Intellectual intrigue? Was there a thought crime committed here? Joking aside, you can't fault any author for trying to promote their work. Self promotion -- and the prominence of the self promotion -- doesn't say anything about the quality of the content.

>> Also, I've observed the upvote vs. flag mechanism working for several years now. I agree that it does work in general. I posted this because I believe it is somewhat breaking down lately, in the form of political rallying cries reaching the front page.

Again, this is a conversation you and I should be having. It's a great reason to add some sort of way to contact you personally -- there's no reason anyone else should have to read our meta-HN conversation.

That being said -- what does a comment that essentially amounts to a downvote + flag add to the discussion?

- You obviously don't care for the article

- You didn't add anything constructive OR critical

I mean, honestly, I can't believe I've been typing for two minutes about this.

In general, it's true that excess meta-discussion is boring and annoying, and I haven't participated in very many meta-discussions since my HN-reddit-noob period. At some point, though, when things pass a threshold, I believe it's okay to say something.

Moreover, I believe that while this thread is not on the topic of the post, it is at least somewhat interesting topic to talk about, and is unlikely to be discussed elsewhere.

For this reason, I don't think it would be better for us to communicate privately, and feel fortunate that it never occurred to me to put my email in my profile.

Anyway, to me, the difference between curiosity and intellectual curiosity is the motivation behind it. A televangelist who discovers YouTube is not curious about how to use YouTube because he likes to figure out how things work; he is curious because he would like more ways to evangelize. Similarly, someone who upvoted this post is likely not intellectually curious about the phenomena involved; he's likely instead curious about how best to further his cause (which in this case is civil liberties). So, interested, yes, intellectual curiosity piqued, no.

Also, I'm not faulting the blogger. The blogger is a blogger; he blogs. I'm faulting the editors for not killing this, because it doesn't add content; it adds rallying cry.

I agree with you about this post. But the only thing to do is flag it and move on. Complaining in the post is rarely going to lead to anything productive at all, so you may as well not do it. Keep the thread clean for people who do want to talk about this.

Domain names getting seized is not just politics for the people here.

i asked a similar question on another post and also got voted down. my conclusion is that these posts clearly fall within the HN guidelines (at a minimum very relevant to anybody whose current or future web startup relates to content or online shopping) but there are obviously different opinions. i don't see why suggestions that we discuss it get routinely downvoted.

> i don't see why suggestions that we discuss it get routinely downvoted.

Because this kind of meta-discussion is explicitly off-topic:

> Please don't submit comments complaining that a submission is inappropriate for the site. If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on the "flag" link. (Not all users will see this; there is a karma threshold.) If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did.

Like I said in the other branch: in general, it sucks to talk about talking, especially when it's always the same stuff being said. So even if it seems kind of off-topic, it's often better to stay mum for this reason.

That said, this seems more than kind of, and is the type of off-topic that seems to lead to more of the not interesting stuff, so I decided to say something despite all that.

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