U.S. Authorities Seize Domain Names

Bryan Hood
U.S. Authorities Seize Domain Names

In preparation for Cyber Monday, the Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have seized 130 domain names over the past 24 hours, according to Torrent Freak, a popular BitTorrent site. The seizures come just days before Cyber Monday, the Internet's version of Black Friday.

RELATED: Go Daddy Really Screwed Up

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen declined to state how many domains had been seized, but told the AFP that, "these seizures are a part of an ongoing law enforcement operation." The seizures are part of "Operation In Our Sites," which is seeking to shutdown sites that illegally sell counterfeit and copyrighted goods and merchandise.

RELATED: Chris Dodd Responds to Critics Comparing Him to a Despot

Visitors to the seized sites are met with a message that states: "This domain name has been seized by ICE -- Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court." It also runs down the consequences of copyright infringement (a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine) and trafficking in counterfeit goods (10 years and up to a $2 million fine). The domain seizures can be disputed though, as the ever controversial SOPA bill has yet to be passed.

RELATED: Reddit Gets Ready to Go Dark to Protest SOPA

The seizures come a year to the day after 82 domains were seized by federal authorities. Unlike last year's sites, some of which provided access to but did not actually host illegal content, most of this year's domains charge visitors. The sites mainly deal in luxury goods and sports apparel.

RELATED: Takedowns and Lawsuits Have Already Started in the Fight Against SOPA