March 31, 2011 | By Abigail Phillips

"Operation in Our Sites" Moves Ahead

The numbers confirm the anecdotal evidence: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is stepping up intellectual property–related enforcement, launching almost half as many cases in the past two months as it had in total in 2010. That’s according to ICE's own statistics, summarized in a larger presentation recently delivered by DHS Assistant Deputy Director Erik Barnett to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP). That's the Chamber of Commerce of HBGary notoriety, a private trade association that lobbies hard for IP enforcement.

The presentation discusses "Operation in Our Sites," ICE’s no-longer-new domain name seizure strategy for "Taking Aim to Stop the Sale of Counterfeit and Pirated Items." We’ve written about this program before and its questionable tactics for trying to counter online infringement. What's more, DHS seems to have read our posts! We refer you to slide 23 of the presentation.

Given that ICE's "primary mission is to protect national security, public safety and the integrity of our borders through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal law governing border control, customs, trade and immigration," we continue to be surprised by its focus on IP issues that don't have a nexus with public health and safety. Moreover, it's hard to believe that going after those kinds of targets is the best use of ICE's limited resources. Citing EFF, the presentation asks: "What investigations didn't occur while the DHS spent its time and energy pursuing the agenda of large media companies?" Good question.

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