The U.S. government is shutting down websites suspected of copyrighted infringement or selling counterfeit goods as Congress debates a bill that would give feds more authority to do so.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Homeland Security Department, has seized more than 70 websites in recent days, according to the Wall Street Journal, and posted a notice saying that the domain name has been seized by ICE through court-ordered warrants. The notice also states penalties for willful copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Neither ICE nor Homeland Security responded to messages seeking comment. An ICE spokeswoman confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the agency executed court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names but declined additional comment.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, there are no additional details available at this time,” she told the newspaper.
Online publications, including TorrentFreak, first reported the seizures which began on Thursday when ICE agents raided facilities operated by a hip hop file-sharing site called RapGodFathers. Other seized sites that share music or sell goods include torrent-finder.com, timberlandlike.com, dvdsetsonline.com and handbagspop.com.
Some of the siteowners have reportedly complained that their domain names were seized without any notice or warning.
The seizures come as Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., vows to block an online copyright enforcement bill that was unanimously approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.