Update 4: Now there's confirmation - it looks like it is a government operation, with Immix doing the work. I'll return to my original question: how the heck is this the business of DHS?
“ICE office of Homeland Security Investigations executed court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names,” said Cori W. Bassett, a spokeswoman for ICE, in a statement. “As this is an ongoing investigation, there are no additional details available at this time.”
Update 3: This may be the missing piece of the puzzle. Go back to this story from May 18, where we find out what Immix is up to:
DHS has selected immixGroup Inc. to provide software applications, network and cybersecurity systems support services. Virginia's information technology solutions provider immixGroup received the award to support the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center, or C3, including agency's Child Exploitation, Cyber Crimes, Computer Forensics and Cyber Training divisions. UPI reports ImmixGroup says its Information Technology Solutions unit will be expected to provide C3's software applications, network and cybersecurity systems with operational support and maintenance among other requirements.
So.... it looks like it's a federally backed operation, but run by the "cyber security" people at Immix Group. The only question is, how high up in DHS/ICE did the OK for this go? Did they have a bunch of pre-ok'd warrants about that they acted on, or did some kind of legal action take place late Friday? At this point, I'd like to see some real reporting done on this.
Update 2: - A look at the registrar information turns up a immixGroup IT Solutions - and it looks like they do a lot of work for the government. So.... is this some kind of pseudo government operation that jumped the gun? That would explain the ability to get the DNS redirected (the sites in question are being redirected via seizedservers.com DNS services), while also explaining the lack of any PR push. If you go to the whois lookup for seizedservers, you can get all of that info. Curiouser and curiouser...
Update: Ok, this now looks more interesting. Have a look at the source of one of the sites that's been taken down, like torrent-finder.com. The source doesn't have any of the "official government" stuff you would expect - and there's a script being loaded from 188.8.131.52 - which is located in North Carolina, and doesn't look at all like a government run operation. Or, if it is government, it's some kind of second hand contract sort of thing that could be denied. Since I'm not really in the conspiracy business, let's take the more obvious tack: it's likely that the RIAA or the MPAA (or possibly both) are paying someone else to do the dirty work that they couldn't get the government to do for them through the proposed COICA law. Or heck, it could be a set of pranksters out having a good time - right now, there's no telling. I think Drudge needs to dig a little deeper on this one.
Another thing - there are no press releases out from DHS or ICE. Typically, when a government agency does something like this, they announce it with great fanfare as an example of "protecting the country". Since there's none of that here, it makes me really wonder.
Hat tip to Michael, for prodding me on this and doing a bunch of the research.
Why any of this is an issue for the DHS is beyond me:
The investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department appears to be shutting down websites that facilitate copyright infringement.
So what happens when the slower class at DHS figures out that domains can be set up beyond their jurisdiction? Does the US build its own version of the "Great Firewall of China", with the DHS acting as the muscle for the RIAA and MPAA?
It doesn't seem to matter who's in the Oval Office or the Congress; on copyright matters, the stupid never stops. Oh, and if you don't think this kind of siezure isn't open to easy abuse - you're not thinking hard enough. Just imagine that (insert partisan forces you distrust here) is in power, and apply the rhetoric you usually use on other issues...