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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I'm sure the domain name was properly impressed by the judge's warrant when it surrendered to the US Marshals or whomever.
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.
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).
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
If that doesn't have the potential for "conflict of interest" written all over it, I don't know what does.
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?
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 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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
We may fail, but at least we tried.
In the real world it's not about how hard you tried, it's about results. Work smarter, not harder.
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.
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."
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".
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.
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
We cannot take this sitting down. This must not be allowed to stand.
So... We let it sit down, and we have to stand?
Assuming not, I'm curious, in your opinion, does the procedure WIPO uses to confiscate domain names provide sufficient due process?
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.