The Homeland Security Department’s customs enforcement division has gone on a Web site shutdown spree, closing down at least 76 domains this week, according to online reports.
While many of the web domains were sites that trafficked in counterfeit brand name goods, and some others linked to copyright-infringing file-sharing materials, at least one site was a Google-like search engine, causing alarm among web freedom advocates who worry the move steps over the line into censorship.
All the shut sites are now displaying a Homeland Security warning that copyright infringers can face up to five years in prison.
According to a report at TorrentFreak, the search engine that was shut down — Torrent-Finder.com — neither hosted copyrighted material nor directly linked to places where it could be found. Instead, the site opened new windows to sites that did link to file-sharing materials.
“When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield,” writes Torrentfreak, “Unless you’re ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is.”