Out of House Commentary
Last week, Bryan McCarthy, the 32-year-old operator of ChannelSurfing.net, was arrested on charges of criminal copyright infringement. This arrest has once again raised questions about the seizure of domains operated by those that are accused, but not convicted, of copyright infringement related crimes. Critics ranging from bloggers to individual rights advocates to Senators have rightfully questioned the constitutionality of these seizures.
The most serious constitutional issues with the domain seizures arise because the Government does not provide any notice to the domain owners prior to seizing them. One moment, their normal site is up at their web address, the next moment, all that is up at their web address is a DHS/ICE seal.
Without knowing what they have been accused of or having the opportunity to defend their site, the Government has repurposed the owners’ private property. Click here to read more.