Practical Technology

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The Rise of Web Censorship


Back in 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart of famously wrote on what was, and wasn’t “hard-core pornography” that, “I know it when I see it.” Today, free speech on the Web is impeded by far more restrictions than just what is, or isn’t, pornographic. On the Web in 2010, even the appearance of enabling file-sharing of copyright materials seems to be enough for the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to shut down Web-sites without notice .

ICE has shut down dozens of file-sharing and what are alleged to be counterfeit good sites such as,, and Their domain names have been taken over by ICE leaving behind only a single page stating that “This domain name has been seized by ICE–Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”

In a statement to the New York Times, Cori W. Bassett, a spokesperson for ICE said that the “ICE office of Homeland Security Investigations [had] executed court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names.”

Fine and dandy. I have no use for sites that traffic in counterfeit goods such as fake autographed sports jerseys or designer purses. I do, on the other hand, worry when a site like Torrent-Finder is shut down.

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