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Government: we can freeze Mega assets even if case is dismissed (arstechnica.com)
176 points by Cadsby on July 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 109 comments



Unfortunately this has been true for a while. For example, having drug-trafficking charges against you dropped doesn't automatically release all impounded property. There is some right to due process, but its precise extent is unclear: there has to be some kind of hearing at some point, basically, in which the seizure can be challenged. But it's actually possible for the government to seize the assets permanently after such a hearing, without a conviction.

Some information here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/background/forfeiture/


That's because it is often a separate case that is held against the property itself, so even if you are found innocent, your property might be found guilty.


Right, and it'll also be a civil forfeiture case, not a criminal prosecution, so there's a lower standard of proof.

It does lead to some of my favorite case captions, such as Quantity of Books v. Kansas.


A kind of sinking feeling seems to be telling me that the books lost that battle.


Nope, the Books won!


Yayy!.. Did they lose the war though?


It seems to be that America is slowly becoming less free; considering factors such as Obama's domestic assassination program, federal wiretapping and more. As an American, I still acknowledge we live in among the freer societies of the world. I still can't help but wonder why the government is increasingly imposing the way it is, history has always shown that repression of almost any form backfires in the long run.


I think its this constant denial, this lie, "the land of the free", that is the reason why things just dont improve in the states. From the red scare to the people-we-dont-like-are-now-called-terrorist.

Why not just accept the fact that Russia, the US and China are most alike when It comes to freedom. And that actually free places, are by definition less powerfull. (because of those pesky morals and ideals).

Lets be honest. You are more like Russia, than like Canada. You are more like China, than like Holland.

You are not the "country of the free". You are the least evil superpower, and wihout you other nations, like mine, would not be free.

So, as a dutch citizen, i thank you for your sacrifice. I thank you for the nuclear umbrella, your inclusive economic nature, and by extension my freedom.

Im sorry, that you dont get to experience it yourself. But you cant be a free superpower. There is no such thing.


> Why not just accept the fact that Russia, the US and China are most alike when It comes to freedom.

Because it's not true. For example, observe how the US consistently beats China and Russia by significant margins in freedom indexes:

In the Democracy Index compiled by the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit, the US is considered a Full Democracy and both Russia and China are considered Authoritarian Regimes.

In the Press Freedom Index, compiled by the French organization Reporters Without Borders, the US is 47th out of 179, Russia is 142nd and China is 174th. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldwide_Press_Freedom_Index)

In the Economic Freedom of the World Index, published by the Fraser Institute (based in Canada), the US is 10th out of 141, Russia is 81st and China is 92nd.

I chose indexes that were compiled outside the United States to avoid attempts to paint these numbers as biased. Other numbers compiled inside the US concerning human rights also strongly favor the US over Russia and China.

You say we should "be honest," but your claims are not supported by the facts.


You are right. Take the press freedom list, where you guys are at 47, and say Holland is at position 3. 44 positions difference is less than 142 ( the difference in ranking between the US and Russis )

Except rankings do not represent range.

And you did seem to completely miss my point: you are a superpower. You have the whole word lobbying you. You have the strongest financial interests to protect, and you protect, just by the virtue of the size of your military, more free nations ( all of them higher ranked in your lists ) than the other superpowers.

My point was, that that does not come free. And to some extend liberty is the price.

I dont even think it makes sense comparing the US and its civil and political dynamics with any other nation, than the two remaining superpowers.

It was not some kind of mean rant against the states. Just that the idea of a free superpower is by definition a contradiction. That you provide freedom to many natioms, but can not to the same extend experience it yourself, because you are just too high value of a target in any dimension (poltically, financially, socially, militairily)


You are presupposing your conclusion. It absolutely makes sense to compare freedom between countries, and these organizations have very detailed ways of doing it. In these comparisons, the US comes out looking pretty good, beating other first-world, western countries such as France, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Israel.

The idea that "super-powers" are fundamentally different than all other countries when it comes to freedom is an argument you have made without support or evidence.


I made that statement without emperical evidence, since i consider it a logical implication.

Consider credit ratings: a few tiny nations have the highest ratings. But their combined assets represent nothing compared to the states. The US is rated lower, because the US is expected to fight its own fights. These tiny nations are rated higher, because the big guys are expected to cover their stability.

The same is true for my freedom: it is garantueed by the states, based on a sacrifice the people of my country would not make themselves. That sacrifice is huge: economic extortion of your social underclass to risk their life; the financial investments that leave very little of tax payers money for any "ordinary purpose" like education. And dont just look at your defense budget, your and mine security depends on your intelligence spendings just as much.

Remember WW2 where you saved our ass? The marshal plan were you rebuild my country? The war on Serbia, where you cleaned up our backyard? The war in Libia, where you allowed us to distance ourselves from a dictator we were doing bussiness with?

You have our back. In your shadow, we are not only safe from China or Russia, but even from ourselves.

But we get all that, without the sacrifice. We can be anti-war. We can spent all our money on education, rather than security. We can have freedom of the press, because our government does not represent any meaningfull stakes. Even our southern neigbours, Belgium. They did not have a government for more than a year. Imagine that!

If you guys would be truly free to vote in your own interest, to be informed correctly about that interest, to have true civil rights ... You would not be a superpower, you would be Canada.

For a short while that is, until China would invade, or the rich middle eastern countries would take full control.


Maybe i could phrase it like this. Your military are not free men. In a way, the US is the military of the free world. All of it: its media, its economics, its population. You guys (have to) live in a state of paranoia to keep that military machiene up and running.

The US is the military of the free world, and nations like mine, its (spoiled) free citizens.

Like most free citizens, we have a tendency to feel morally superior. We dont have to choose between security or liberty. You sacrifice your libery for our security, and most of us are completely oblivious to this fact.


Could it be that those aren't completely unbiased, despite being based outside the US? Maybe others give it the benefit of the doubt when compiling these things whereas they don't with those other regimes.


Maybe lots of things are true, but the evidence supports his assertion. He provided three excellent references for his position; you provide a leading question. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. The USA is getting steadily less free, but is still far ahead of Russia or China.


While we could debate the possible biases of people outside the US, a much more interesting question is whether there is any support whatsoever for the idea that the US is like Russia and China when it comes to freedom. It's an absurd comparison, and the purpose of citing the indexes is to show just how absurd it is, since they measure such things in absolute terms.

A little bias isn't going to make the difference between "Full Democracy" (the most free in the Democracy Index) and "Authoritarian Regime" (the least free).


From an individualist perspective, 'Full Democracy' and 'Authoritarian Regime' sound quite similar.


No, the Democracy Index also makes its evaluation on the basis of Civil Liberties. To quote from their report:

> All democracies are systems in which citizens freely make political decisions by majority rule. But rule by the majority is not necessarily democratic. In a democracy majority rule must be combined with guarantees of individual human rights and the rights of minorities.

In 2011 the US scored 8.53 in Civil Liberties (out of 10) compared with 4.71 for Russia and 1.18 for China.


All of your cited indexes examine only macro-freedoms, especially the ones that institutions in western societies are generally built upon, while completely ignoring the concept of personal freedom.

Specifically, this 'Civil Liberties' category is only a subset of civil liberties as applied to the inputs of democracy. Most autonomous governments directly attack political free expression, which is what this category is designed to measure. (USG however has become quite autonomous and oppressive while allowing free expression. This takes longer to develop, but is much more robust)

As for examples of civil liberties that are not reflected in this category - presumption of innocence, equal protection under the law, the sorry excuse for "due process", unintelligible and de-facto private laws, rights granted by the "supreme law of the land" being somehow mostly inapplicable, excessive punishment, drug laws and every other area where government meddles with individuals' lives to make society "better". Your standard Frito Pendejo celebrates his "excellent" rights while simultaneously cheering on fascism against those in positions of actually requiring said rights. The fact that the process is democratic is of little importance when the results are poor.


> USG however has become quite autonomous and oppressive while allowing free expression.

Again, completely unsupported.

> As for examples of civil liberties that are not reflected in this category [...]

Did you actually read the report? Equal protection is an explicit criterion. The ability of citizens to successfully petition the government for redress of grievances is another, which addresses many of the others (as well as an independent judiciary).

HackerNews used to be a place where most people had an informed perspective about how the world really works. I'm sad to see the rise of useless naive indignation that plagues so many Internet discussion boards. There is plenty to criticize the US for. The Kim Dotcom case looks pretty unreasonable from what we know. The jump from there to the US being Russia or China is absurd and betrays sloppy and/or uninformed thinking. The fact that I even have to argue this point and spend time digging up sources that state the obvious is disconcerting, and I regret the time I've wasted on this thread.


I'd skimmed the 'Democracy Index' report. It addresses equal protection, but the problem is the narrow context of the question. Asked in regards to political expression, I think it'd be hard to say that the equal protection in the US is anything but good. AFAIK we don't really have retaliatory crimes going uninvestigated. However, when we widen the scope to include things like government criminality, SLAPPs, copyright infringement, drug possession, and general sentencing it's pretty hard to say that parties of differing political/social/economic standing receive similar redress.

The freedom to help condone whichever big-money candidate sweet-talked me the best or to write in the name of someone who definitely won't be elected just isn't worth that much to me, especially when it fits into continuing the status quo oh-so-well. I'd probably miss it if it were gone, but as it stands I'd much rather have laws be understandable by everyone, and minimal penalties when they've not been violated (even when one ultimately prevails, time wasted by the system is a penalty itself). These are fundamental parts of the rule-of-law that are sorely missing.

And ah yes, the good old argumento-ad-declaring-a-viewpoint-as-part-of-the-downfall-of-hackernews-um. If something is disconcerting, that may mean you need to examine your assumptions. In actuality, you're making "obvious" arguments because you're ignoring the (quite insightful!) point that was made with regards to individual freedom, while arguing against a straw-man of institutional freedom.


I think "land of the free" originally made sense, as it meant "free from British oppression and taxation." In today's context though, it's just nationalist propaganda.


How is nationalist propaganda specific to the US?


In the spirit of explaining downvotes: You replied to a two sentence post, and neither sentence advanced an assertion that nationalist propaganda was specific to the US.


Yes as the USA locks up more people in prison per capita than any other country, how can it call it self the land of the free?


The land of not exclusively free.


By the way, the US beats the Netherlands by a significant margin in the Economic Freedom Index. So while the Netherlands seems like a very nice place (which I am visiting in a few weeks) and scores very well in democracy and press freedom, it's not as free as the US by some measures. Maybe you should come here if you want to form a startup. :)


That makes sense. One could even argue, that it is the prime freedom that 'powers' the US. (it could not be a superpower without)

Although, personally, i consider the most "free" market, to be about more than tax levels and (lack of) labour laws. The current interpretation is very one dimensional.

For example, the US (and Holland as well), do not protect against legislative extortion. Nor do they effectively limit anti-competitive behavior. You can not build a solid stable company on top of any infrastructure owned by potential competitors. From net-neutrality to side-loading of apps. The freedom to innovate pricing models conflicts with the freedom to innovate actual products.


Those indices are weighted and we may apply different coefficients depending on what kind of freedom we are studying (freedom of the press, business, human rights, etc).


The US is certainly evolving. You can point at a number of things which folks don't like. But history has shown that the system of replacing the government piece by piece over time is remarkably effective and resilient. Many people would argue that the current administration was elected, and a large number on incumbent legislators replaced in 2008, because of the Bush administrations casual disregard for what many considered fundamental rights. Torturing people and warrantless eaves dropping doesn't get you re-elected generally.

What happens next is that the new administration tries to understand and rationalize why they were picked. I would say that the President under estimated how much of his victory was civil liberties focused (at least from the more conservative voters in the country). His failure to make any meaningful change in those policies is working against him today.

That message has built slowly (many republicans failed to believe it could overwhelm their party in 2008) but steadily. And while many will seek faster results than we are seeing, those with a longer view see helpful signs that suggest the process is working its way toward resolution. Just as it did during other crises in the past.


I am a fairly conservative voter. I voted for Obama for exactly the reasons you stated. He will not be getting my vote again because, at best, he followed Bush's lead (at worst, he accelerated it).

I won't be voting for Romney because I think he will be just as bad. Where's the EFF's candidate?


Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are both extremely serious about civil liberties. It's really unfortunate that the U.S. political system is so heavily stacked against third parties.


I don't see the replacement. The Obama administration has not turned back any of the violations of human rights from the Bush administration. We have even more wars, even more use of drones killing innocent people, we have undeclared wars in somalia (where the UN is warning passenger airlines to avoid because the skies are filled with american drones).

We have the expansion and extention of the PATRIOT ACT.

We have porno scanners in the airports and the TSA molesting anyone who opts out. We actually have what is legally assault, and child molestation, going on thousands of times a day. ("oh its outrageous to call it that!" Really? How is it ok for the government to do it but sickening when a regular citizen does it? Hmmm?)

We have the assasination of US citizens without trial.

We have more asset forfieture- which really is theft.

We have the criminalization of private health insurance (which many havent' realized because it hasn't fully gone into effect and they haven't yet lost their coverage.)

Obama is like Bush, but without the restraint!

I wish things were evolving, but no administration ever undoes the damage of the previous one-- the only way they differ is in which areas of our lives they want to control.

Lets not forget that Joe Biden is the architect of the drug war.... so who really believed Obama was going to allow medical marijauna?


"I don't see the replacement."

Perhaps you aren't patient. The democratic party steamrolled the republicans in the 2008 race. And you are correct that they didn't change the policies that many people really wanted them to change. The republicans came back with their 'tea party' in 2010. That was two replacement cycles, we're coming up on the third. It may surprise you to know but people who want to be in office, and get kicked out, try to figure out why they lost. That feedback loop is slow (and others have pointed out you probably don't want a government that can change too quickly). But it does work. Compare policies from 2008 to 2010 and 2010 to the present. You will see if you look across a broad spectrum of politicians people trying to adapt so that they can win re-election (or election in general).

I think you will see some interesting effects from the current federal harassment of California marijuana clinics. Look at gay marriage and the path it has taken, this is a long conversation and everyone in the country has a point of view. The current state of affairs with pot has already put a huge dent in the whole 'gateway drug' hypothesis so often used to argue against legalization.


> I still acknowledge we live in among the freer societies of the world

My understand is America is the least free developed country in the world. Yes, it's freer than many developing and undeveloped countries, but saying that is like saying your team is better than the one that consistently finishes bottom of the ladder


America has been slowly but surely turning itself into something that, when you blur out the trees to look at the forest, looks more and more like the Soviet Union -- but with capitalism!


Don't extrapolate too far. Wait for the Judges ruling first.

It's the job of the prosecutor to claim anything and everything (as long as it's the truth) and let the judge sort it out.


Indeed. The hold-up appears to be because of the wording of the statute, that they need to be notified at their US address. That could point towards either a failure on the part of the legislators, or a conscious effort on their part to keep notices from being served on entities not under US purview.

I suppose the judge could attempt to discern the intent of the law and make a ruling that goes with the spirit of the law, but it's noted in the article that the wording is fairly plain, and that doesn't leave a lot of room for interpretation.

Also, I wonder how much people would be complaining about this if it was a drug cartel of some sort (with a corporate front) with seized US assets and a similar defense.


As far as I've read, Megaupload didn't have any U.S. assets. It was all in Hong Kong and Australia.

You don't see the U.S. going into foreign countries (on different continents even) and dragging back people and their assets to charge under American law, do you?

If a drug cartel is running it's operation in a country where it's not illegal to do so and something like this happened, then I would STILL be complaining about this.


> Obama's domestic assassination program

Domestic assassination?

Is this a mischaracterization of the al-Awlaki case, or is there something else going on?


America was never as free as you thought it was, there was just no way to thoroughly challenge this undeclared freedom (and there definitely was no way to publicly do so as well).


For 80 years, America still had slavery. For 120 years, women could not vote. For almost 150 years, minorities could not exercise their constitutional rights.

Assassinating American citizens who have publicly declared war on America is a traditional state perogative that America has always exercised (and which it copied from Britain and France). The only difference now is that such activities receive more attention.

The current federal wiretapping is nothing compared to what Herbert Hoover did as director of the FBI. Yes, the NSA has a dossier on most Americans, collected using computer programs. Herbert Hoover did the same thing, without the advantages of computer automation.

By any measure, America is far more free now than at any time before the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s. In some respects, (i.e, free speech, religion, gun rights, and sixth amendment rights) it is freer than at any time in its history.


> The current federal wiretapping is nothing compared to what Herbert Hoover did as director of the FBI. Yes, the NSA has a dossier on most Americans, collected using computer programs. Herbert Hoover did the same thing, without the advantages of computer automation.

You're confusing Herbert Hoover (the 31st President) with J Edgar Hoover, the infamous creator of the FBI in 1935.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Edgar_Hoover

However, I do challenge your point that the US is "freer", as there are dozens if not hundreds of Hoover-wannabes in government and powerful companies around the country and globe, and who now have computer automation and societal indoctrination from the brain-children of many forever wars (ie, war on terror, war on drugs, etc).


The state of "freedom" is in constant flux. In comparison to say, 1930, the world is pretty free right now.

Just because things seem pretty sane now in comparison to historical insanity doesn't mean we should accept corruption, extra-judicial executions, torture, mass murder, and internal spying operations.

Unfortunately that's what we've received. And because its been accepted (in the US, as indicated by record fundraising from both major parties) I fully expect more of it, with ever waning discrimination.


Hmm. I'm not sure I like it, but the title and comments here are a little misleading. The government has indicted MegaUpload, MegaUpload is arguing that they can't be served notice of those indictments, and the government is saying, "Well, until we can, we're not unfreezing the assets." MegaUpload's position doesn't sound ridiculous - "we're not a US company, why should we be subject to US law?" - except that they were doing business in the US (is that where the seized assets were? It sounds like they at least host some stuff out of Virginia).


Rogue state. Imagine if China had done this to a US company.


That is not the meaning of "Rogue State" and never has been.

US companies have to play ball in China in all kinds of interesting ways, as a matter of fact...


China has done this to U.S. companies in China, repeatedly, over and over and over again.

The U.S. was able to do this to a Hong Kong company only because it had an agreement with Chinese authorities (specifically, in Hong Kong as it is economically separate from the rest of the mainland) to do so.


Key phrase being "U.S. companies in China". Not "U.S. companies who don't operate in China".


"China has done this to U.S. companies in China, repeatedly, over and over and over again."

I'm curious. Can you can name a few examples?


The only one I can name off the top of my head is Apex Digital (b/c it was HQ'd close to where I grew up). Apex was competing with a Chinese state-owned agency and rejected a buyout offer. Chinese officials arrested its CEO on fraud charges and tried to sieze the company's Chinese operating assets to give to the Chinese company. Eventually, Apex went bankrupt fighting the case.

There are many more; the common thread is usually that these companies are competing with Chinese companies.


And did they do this on American soil? colour me surprised.


'U.S. companies in China' ... doesn't look like it.


Given that this case required the cooperation of Hong-Kong police, they are now sort of entitled to.

I would be very surprised if they do not at some point expect the favour to be repaid.


Just a thought: Megaupload is a Hong Kong corporation. There's no way the White House didn't have a diplomatic chat with the Chinese before demolishing a Hong Kong business, is there?


One wonders what prevents the government from simply providing notice to Megaupload's counsel, which does after have power of attorney and is thus presumably empowered to take notice as well. I haven't studied the ins and outs of criminal procedure though.


So glad to see my tax dollars working for things like this. Like another user here said "this has never been about justice, the law" or what's right - it's all about lobbying, politics and $$$$

The sham organizations that are the RIAA/MPAA are so heavily vested in the government, they'll try anything and everything to create a controlled Internet/sharing system of "content" - which in and of itself is the vaguest definition of all time. All this SOPA/PIPA crap will never pass, we will always find a way for a free Internet.

Total waste of time, a government making up bullshit laws along the way for something that will not only have zero effect on content sharing, but will actually increase it after angering tons of people.

It's truly ridiculous when resources, energy and tax payer dollars can be spent on more important issues that our country needs help with. All these politicians in this country are a f-ing disgrace.


At this point I don't care if Mega-upload is guilty or not. There has been enough cock-ups by the prosecution to throw this thing out of the courts. I sincerely hope that the US government pays for this incident and a result of that sets a precedent of following proper due process.


The only way of fighting this is to not pay for media from any of the big sources. I don't care if that means abstaining from it or pirating it, but at this point anything we pay these people is contributing financially to a sustained attack on society.


Sounds like something a king would do.



Sounds like something out of Parks and Recreation, only weirder.

Well... truth is stranger than fiction.


This has never been about the law or justice, it is all about politics, lobbying and money.


Without a doubt


Had they used bitcoin, would the government had any power to do this?


Confiscate the bitcoin bank servers after confiscating the mega servers.


What?

No need, the password is likely 123456

Or just reset the machines, since they think Amazon works like other vps providers...


Correction: you think if you do it won't cost those responsible dearly. My bet is you don't fuck with the Internet.


'Don't fuck with the Internet' implies the internet is a threat, which it is not. It is a fragmented collection of small organizations which -- through it's natural fragmentation -- is no serious threat.

The recent SOPA/PIPA circus is irrelevant, there were projects in progress by the US Government to implement SOPA/PIPA policies and they have not slowed down.

Don't get confused, we have shown a large demonstration of disunity between the citizens and the government, but it's still no more than that -- a demonstration.


Your attitude is not one of progress.


Wow, the justice system refuses to apply American law to a foreign company operating in a foreign nation, so what you do is go seize his person, and wait until he has an address in Prison, then presto! It's legal to apply American law to him.

Imagine if Iran had pulled a stunt like this to some female CEO of a major corporation was in violation of Sharia law for exposing skin. We can't imprison them while they live in the foreign land, so lets bring them here and then we can apply justice.

Am I missing something that makes this an ethical thing to do?


>Am I missing something that makes this an ethical thing to do?

Because America.


Don't forget my personal favourite, "It's ok to pervert justice since Dotcom is a bad guy!"


This does seem to be a logical argument, these days. :/


Trying to pretend that their is some sort of consistent notion of justice or even ideology in America any more is , especially at the federal level, is just delusional. It's a bit like a company run by hyperactive sociopaths that changes priorities every day. America has become just a massive sea of "interests" and power swirling around like a tornado, occasionally flattening someone's house or life when the winds line up in that direction.


Exposing skin is pretty distant from what MegaUpload was accused of. (The validity of the charges is another matter, I just REALLY don't think it is correct to compare this to not pulling your hijab down far enough)


The specific analogy aside, the fact is that the U.S. government is basically saying that no matter who you are, or where you are, if you violate American law you'll be brought to American justice, even if they have to drag you to America against your will first. If any other country in the world did this, there would be complete public outrage.

From my point of view, American copyright and patent laws are very, very wrong. They largely miss their intended purposes. What's more, apparently even non-Americans on the other side of the world are at risk of being the target of these legal shenanigans.

I cannot stress how RIDICULOUS I think this whole affair is.

It's as if the prosecutors figure that Megaupload operates on the Internet, therefore it's operating in America and is subject to American law... is this another example of people who do not understand how the Internet works making major decisions about the Internet and it's future?


People who are upset about the case in general seem to be determined to read more into this tiny development then there actually is. What they're saying is that just because you don't have an address doesn't mean we can't freeze your assets.

Consider a homeless person who had stolen money and kept it in a bank. Just because the government can't find the alleged thief and doesn't have an address for them shouldn't mean they can't freeze the account, allowing the thief to go on making withdrawls at ATMs around the world.


You are correct in assuming that I am upset about the case in general.

However your analogy assumes that the homeless person (Megaupload) is guilty of theft and lives in the U.S.

If this homeless person lives in another country and someone in America claims that this homeless person stole from them. Does the U.S. government even have the right to go and seize this homeless person's foreign assets?

Everyone seems to be conveniently forgetting that Megaupload has NOTHING to do with the United Stated except for operating on the Internet and not discriminating against U.S. customers.


"Does the U.S. government even have the right to go and seize this homeless person's foreign assets?"

I suppose it would depend on the treaties with have with where those assets are held.

Also freeze =/= seize. They are similar and rhyme but not identical.

"Everyone seems to be conveniently forgetting that Megaupload has NOTHING to do with the United Stated except for operating on the Internet and not discriminating against U.S. customers."

Are you telling me that I can sit in Nowhereistan, hack into bank accounts all over the world to steal that money, transfer it into my Nowhereistan accounts and I'm immune to all the world's governments even though they have a treaty with Nowhereistan?


yes? why would/should it be otherwise?

if you try and use your money to travel out of Nowhereistan, then we got you, but so long as you haven't broken the laws of your own country, and you stay in your own country, you absolutely should be immune.

What other approach would make sense? Should you be able to be arrested in the US for acting contrary to laws passed in Pakistan?


I'm not saying you are immune. But if the judge ruling over the case throws it out before it gets to court then your assets should not remain frozen indefinitely out of spite.


Throws it out over a technicality in service because of a lack of address? We're back to the homeless thief with no address getting a free pass.


No, the homeless thief can be located in person, already within the US, and arrested by ordinary local police under ordinary local laws.


The asset freecing is one thing, but trying to prosecute a company without an US address under US criminal law is much more troubling. If I have a personal blog, should it be possible to hold me accountable according to the criminal laws of every single country in the world? Obviously not, how could I possibly comply?

Now an internet company with customers around the world is different - but not so different that this should be possible under criminal law without a very clear pre-written law.


It's not distant at all... why is providing a forum for users to make bytes/information available to each other categorically more villainous than showing a little ankle? Only your cultural perspective makes a Sharia infraction less severe than vague IP transgressions.


Would editing the parent to say 'having sex with another man,' which is a capital offense, really change the substance of the argument?


Its all point of view.

Violating religious law vs violating the property of private corporations?


There's no "religious" law in the context we're talking about.

In both cases it's just law, enacted and enforced by the government of each country.


And really, I suspect I've met some fundamentalist capitalists. "May Mammon bless our profits, and our capital, and our perfect markets. In St. Ayn's name, amen."


I'm not defending the action of our country but your analogy is way off. You're comparing two whole different scenarios. People around the world commit stuff all the time that would violate our laws but you never hear any cases like Kim's until today. Remember the reason Kim was brought to American justice system was because MPAA (American Company) alleges that MegaUpload caused over 500 million dollars in damages to their company. That's a large sum of money and if its in any other industry, any company would do the same.


The analogy is not totally off at all. Read the other comments. It's just a matter of perspective.

Also, those are $500m in alleged damages. There's quite a bit of controversy over whether pirates are actually lost sales. Additionally, many people resort to pirated copies in order to carry out their own "try before you buy" shopping strategy. :P


The analogy is not totally off at all. Read the other comments. It's just a matter of perspective.

I don't agree. Without intending to defend the US government, Sharia Law (or Megaupload for that matter), there is a significant distinction between the two cases: that the MPAA feels Megaupload is harming them directly.

You may not agree that they're right about that. You may think the damages amounts are silly. You might even think that the idea that there are any damages at all is a sign that someone doesn't get the information revolution. Leave that aside.

The MPAA thinks Megaupload is harming them directly, a viewpoint the justice system seems to share.

So, a more direct analogy would be a country with excessive pollution. Or a country with a lot of drug cartels that exports illegal substances or crime. Or a country that trains terrorists.

I'm not saying the MPAA is right. I'm definitely not saying the DOJ is right. I am saying that this is the class of problem that people go to war over, and it's unfair to characterize it as anything else.


The analogy is pretty close. The Iranian mullahs would certainly feel that American corporations are polluting the minds of Iranian youth, harming them directly. So an equivalent American CEO might be Lori Greeley, CEO of Victoria's Secret.


Exactly. You don't have to be geographically present to "show skin". It's a 'crime' that works over the internet just as well as it works in meatspace.


Thanks for the idea. Be on the look out for a new social network Meatspace.com coming soon.


I like the term "in meatspace". Haha! I think I've finally found a good replacement for "IRL".


Yeah, I use it because I rather dislike that phrase/acronym. ;)


True, though to the extent the mullahs believe that, they also want to blow us up.

What I'm really saying is this is more than disliking how a country on the other side of the globe does things. When citizens bicker with each other, you see one side of government. When foreigners harm citizens? You see a completely different side.

I'm not saying what the US did is right. But I am saying it is expected, given how they perceive the situation. Your-people-are-hurting-my-people is the sort of problem resolved with treaties, covert military action, or outright wars. Gloves come off as the government does what it has to to make it stop.

If you're the sort of person that thinks piracy doesn't hurt anyone, the situation is a tragic misunderstanding. But you can also expect more tragedy as a result of the misunderstanding because of the class of problem it is.


But whose the victim in this case? There's no monetary or physical damages in women showing skin. One law is based on belief and the other is in settling a somewhat reasonable claim.


There are no physical or direct monetary damages to the MPAA, either. Intellectual property is just as based on belief as the Iranian desire to maintain a pure culture.


The MPAA thinks that Mega is harming them directly under US law. I'm sure that other entities of other countries feel similar about their own laws.


One scenario has a victim and the other is solely based on beliefs. The whole case with Megaupload is about the MPAA claiming that they are a victim of piracy. I understand that everyone has an different opinion on this case, that's why there is a case to begin with. IMO I don't believe that there should be a case to begin with but when there's half a billion dollars that is claimed as lost it's enough to look into it.


So the only thing that matters is how much is claimed ?

I mean, I could easily claim that my company has lost a full billion dollars because of the way you run your business.

Should that mean I should be able to get the our local cops to travel to your country, shut down your business, bring you back here to new zealand, put you in prison, and then charge you with a crime?

this thing is an absolute travesty for anyone who cares about justice, due process or the rule of law.

As far as I can see, the only thing more embarrassing than the way the USA has behaved in this case, is the way my country is doing its best to bare its buttocks to make the whole thing more comfortable.


Both scenarios have victims, and both are solely based on beliefs.


+1, it's all a matter of perspective.


Yeah, except the MPAA is allowed to pull its damage numbers from where the sun doesn't shine.


The lesson from this and other cases is simple:

DON'T START A COMPANY IN THE U.S.

DON'T KEEP YOUR ASSETS IN THE U.S.

DON'T KEEP YOUR DATA IN U.S.-owned DATA CENTERS

(That includes non-US data centers belonging to US companies, like Amazon AWS servers in Ireland.)

Otherwise you're exposing your company and your users to the arbitrary, predatory practices of US "law enforcement" system, which happily does the bidding of US content industries.


Welcome to the police state. None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free




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