Can you trust one of the biggest companies supporting greater government domain seizures to fairly report on those government domain seizures and their impacts? Well, NBC Nightly News recently ran a report about the government’s domain seizures, which you can watch below. To be honest, I had to check a few times to see if this was really done by NBC, since the production quality is awful and really amateurish, the sound mix is dreadful and the background music is too loud and out of place — something way below the standard that I’ve seen done by NBC in the past:
Not surprisingly, the report does not seek out truth at all. It mostly just presents the government’s point of view — even when it’s totally laughable, and then very very briefly quotes Waleed Gadelkareem, the guy behind Torrent-Finder — who had his search engine domain seized by the government — and Gadelkareem’s lawyer, who points out, quite accurately, that it’s bizarre that the US government appears to be protecting a single business against innovation.
But the really bizarre parts are the quotes from the main ICE investigator, William Ross, on these seizures. It becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that the man has no business running such operations as he doesn’t know what he’s talking about:
“We try to protect the economic interests of US industries and manufacturers. People are taking their work product and selling it for free!”
Neither of those sentences makes any sense. Protecting the “economic interests” of US industries is way too broad. I mean, based on that, should the US government have blocked the creation of the automobile industry, because it would negatively impact “the economic interests” of the US horse & buggy industry? The economic interests of US industries are often put at risk through disruptive technology… but what comes out of it are new industries. The US government should never be in the business of picking winners and losers of disruptive technologies, yet that’s what Ross just admitted he’s doing here. Scary.
And the second sentence… um what? How do you sell something for free? Furthermore how do you “take” something if the original is still there? This is the guy we have making the call on whether or not to seize domain names? Yikes! He goes on:
We’re protecting them against other people taking their ideas and selling them.
Um. Shouldn’t Ross know that “ideas” are not protectable under US intellectual property law? Patents cover inventions. Copyright covers expression. Trademarks cover trademarks. Ideas are not covered. In fact, they’re explicitly not covered. So, again, I have to ask, how is it that this is the guy who gets to decide what domains are seized when he doesn’t appear to know the law?
The report also makes bogus claims, such as seizing domain names effectively shuts down the websites.
It goes on along these lines, basically repeating all of NBCUniversal Corporate’s talking points as fact. It’s hard to see how you can expect any reasonable reporting on this topic from a company that is heavily involved in lobbying for laws like PROTECT IP which will expand these sorts of things even further, and allow folks like Ross, who clearly has no business deciding the legality of websites, to continue censorsing websites in the name of the US government, but which is clearly just to protect some businesses who don’t know how to adapt.