While many sports fans are preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl by organizing parties and shopping for TVs, the U.S. government is preparing in a different way. Just yesterday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency seized 307 different domains suspected of violating NFL copyrights. Of those, 16 were suspected of illegal streaming. The rest were allegedly selling counterfeit NFL merchandise.
Target sites assumed guilty until proven innocent under U.S. law
The seizure was conducted under U.S. civil law, not criminal law. That means the affected parties need to prove that the internet domains were not engaging in illegal activity to get them back — an ugly mirror image of the country’s usual "innocent until proven guilty" right. Many of the domains were not being operated by U.S. groups. Because they used U.S. domain suffixes .net, .com, and .org, however, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was empowered to act.
Visitors to any of the seized domains are now greeted by a message from ICE explaining the takedown. According to the government, these messages have already been viewed over 77 million times yesterday alone.