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Techdirt Sues ICE After It Insists It Has No Records Of The 1 Million Domains It Claims To Have Seized

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Techdirt Sues ICE After It Insists It Has No Records Of The 1 Million Domains It Claims To Have Seized

Postby MrFredPFL » Fri May 24, 2019 11:16 pm

Story :

Earlier today, we sued ICE for its failure to provide relevant documents in response to a FOIA request.

There's a pretty long backstory here, so let's go back about a decade. In the summer of 2010, we found it somewhat disturbing that ICE had "seized" a bunch of websites and was announcing this from Disney's headquarters. It raised all sorts of questions, starting with the big First Amendment questions. There are a whole bunch of cases making it clear that prior restraint is not allowed under the First Amendment. In Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana, the Supreme Court made it quite clear that you couldn't "seize" an entire bookstore in response to one possibly illegal (in that case, obscene) book:

The pretrial seizure of petitioner's bookstore and its contents... was improper. While a single copy of a book or film may be seized and retained for evidentiary purposes based on a finding of probable cause, books or films may not be taken out of circulation completely until there has been a determination of obscenity after an adversary hearing. The risk of prior restraint, which is the underlying basis for the special Fourth Amendment protection accorded searches for and seizures of First Amendment materials, renders invalid the pretrial seizure here. Even assuming that petitioner's bookstore and its contents are forfeitable when it is proved that they were used in, or derived from, a pattern of violations of the state obscenity laws, the seizure was unconstitutional.

It seemed quite clear to me that seizing an entire website, based merely on accusations of copyright infringement, presented the same problem.

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