Congresswomen Called for Improved Domain-Seizure RegulationRep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) has been making attempts to improve the existing legislation over domain seizures, asking Reddit’s users to crowdsource a better law which would diminish the power of American authorities over the web.
The US government managed to seize over 750 domain names since 2010 within “Operation in Our Sites” project, which was started in order to fight Internet piracy. Normally, .com, .org, and .net domain names were targeted, which were allegedly guilty of copyright violation.
Nevertheless, the efficacy of the project is questionable, particularly with such examples as Dajaz1 – a hip-hop blog closed down at the demand of the Recording Industry Association of America. In a year, the website was returned without any explanation or apology from the authorities. This situation was harshly criticized by both Zoe Lofgren and the EFF. The latter also complained that the Operation was an obvious threat to the First Amendment.
Zoe Lofgren claimed that the initial goal was to develop targeted law to require the authorities to provide notice and an opportunity for portal administration to defend themselves before seizing or redirecting their domain names. Of course, her statement didn’t go unnoticed. People agree that they are meant to be innocent until proven guilty. As such, taking a site down or seizing its domain name should be a last resort opposed to a standard knee-jerk reaction. They even compare taking a site down to closing down a whole business franchise. Others claim that there should be severe penalties for false takedowns, like the ones that happened with Dajaz1. This is supposed to also apply to DMCA takedowns over copyright infringement, with the penalties being enforced vigorously in order to protect innocent people.
At the moment, the existing law allows the US to seize any .com, .net and .org domain name, because the companies handling them operate on the territory of the United States. The users can only hope that Lofgren’s suggestion will be heard by the authorities. Those who are especially interested are invited to check out her official site or join Reddit’s discussion group.