March 6, 2014
Perhaps two of the least liked organizations that we know of around here are ICE, also known as the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’ group — recently subject to a sort of rebranding as Homeland Security Investigations, and GoDaddy. So here’s a story of the two of them teaming up to censor a political website in Mexico that was a key site in protesting the current Mexican administration, as well as opposing attempts to criminalize protests.
On December 2nd, 2013, the site disappeared offline. The United States host, GoDaddy, suspended the domain with no prior notice. GoDaddy told its owners that the site was taken down “as part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation.” The office in charge of this investigation was listed as “Special Agent Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Embassy, Mexico City.” (The contact email pointed to “ice.dhs.gov,” implying that this agent was working as part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement wing, who have been involved in curious domain name takedowns in the past.
The site has now filed a lawsuit concerning the case, saying that the takedown “violates Mexico’s legal protections for freedom of expression.” However, there are other questions as well, which the good folks at EFF highlight:
Why did GoDaddy take down content with the excuse of it being part of a legal investigation, when the company did not request or relay any formal judicial documents or an official court order? And why is the U.S. Embassy acting as a relay for an unclear legal process that resulted in censorship within the United States?
It would be nice to get some answers to those questions. In exploring the issue, I just sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to ICE for any communications between it and GoDaddy concerning this domain. I’ll be sure to update everyone when and if any information is returned.
In the meantime, the folks at 1dmx.org have also put together a video about the takedown, which you can view below: