Homeland Security tracking visits to seized domains using Google Analytics and Piwik

Posted on November 29th, 2010 Dan

The US Dept of Homeland Security shut down more than 70 web sites over the weekend which they claimed were involved in distributing copyrighted music.

Nothing to see here... move along.

If you buy into all this “intellectual property” stuff in the first place… you think information can be considered “property” then you must also think of domains as private intellectual property which is protected under the 4th amendment from warrantless search and seizure- and the fact that they issued a single blanket warrant for all these domains indicates that they did not afford each domain owner due process because each site has different owners, different content and should be considered in separate court proceedings.

Since they shut off domains at the top level (.com) which Verisign is authoritative for, they just issue one single order to verisign for as many domains as they like, without considering the ethics of copying and distributing information which essentially boils down to very long numbers.  Can you “own” a number?  They seem to think so. People can form legally enforcable contracts but what if someone didn’t agree not to download your song?  They haven’t violated any contract.  Ah, right but we’re supposed to think of information as property.  The concept of Intellectual Property is absurd and disproven. You can not own a number and copying a number is not stealing property, since the original number still exists!

Naturally being curious about these seized domains, I pulled some cached pages from that rapgodfathers.com site off archive.org to see what was going on.   The keywords in their pages include terms like “warez” which means unlicensed software, and although site did seem to contain some info related to file sharing that is for a court of law to decide whether it violates any copyrights, not the corporate media and RIAA MPAA with their takedown notices.  Google and YouTube host copyrighted media all the time and get away with it.

I didn’t exactly want to visit the confiscated domain, for fear of getting on some kind of “list” but unfortunately I accidentally clicked a link in the archive.org cache of it, which took me to rapgodfathers.com.  Since I already loaded the thing (javascripts blocked of course), I had a look at the source code of the DHS page (below), and noticed that they’re using two different stats packages (Google Analytics, and Piwik) which record IP addresses, referring URLs, and potentially other private information of all those terrorist file-sharers.  Yes, some accidental visits will also be added to the database, but we have nothing to worry about, being accidentally added to homeland security lists… or.. nevermind.

The Piwik analytic software appears to be running on the following private host:

CaroNet Managed Hosting, Inc. CI-74-81-170-0-23 (NET-74-81-170-0-1) 74.81.170.0 - 74.81.171.255
Carolina Internet, Ltd. CARO-NET-ARIN-4 (NET-74-81-160-0-1) 74.81.160.0 - 74.81.191.255

So not only is DHS apparently doing unconstitutional seizure of domains within the US, they’re also recording visitors’ info without any kind of privacy statement. I can’t say this surpirses me but when the government starts keeping lists of citizens, no good ever comes of it.

Federal agents can’t just sit there and execute takedown requests from companies unless they can prove a copyright violation in court and a warrant is issued to seize the “intellectual property.”  I mean, that is what you’re claiming to protect, right? In our legal system, proving something is supposed to mean going to court and having a judge or preferably a jury decide based on evidence presented and testimony.  This type of activity is a slippery slope to total censorship and centralized control over internet… which is exactly what they want.

So then, DHS, ICE, and whatever the other agency was, (so many agencies it makes my head spin) where are the search warrants to seize this so-called intellectual property?

4th amendment, people!

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


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