Sunday, November 28, 2010

Am I Too Skeptical

I am a StumbleUpon user. It's an unbelievably efficient time-suck. Any time you press that Stumble! button, you get taken to some random page that, four times out of five, appeals to you. Granted there's a crapton of junk. And, sometimes the things you get, you're not really sure "what interest did I click that I got this page??"

I think, somewhere, I must have clicked some mislabled "conspiracy theory" interest button. Frequently, I get Stumbles that are purportedly factual, but, if you question the content, there's little corroborating content available. And, no, I don't consider other unknown/fringe sources to be either reliable or corroborating.

Yesterday, I stumbled a Mashable article about DHS/ICE supposedly seizing a bunch of piracy-oriented web sites. The content of the article struck me as odd, because, the last I'd heard from sources like EFF (and similar sites), COICA had not been passed by the last Congress or Senate, nor had it made it to Obama's desk for signing. It was my understanding that COICA was being formulated because the federal government currently couldn't act as the various IP-holders' (RIAA, MPAA, etc.) proxy as they'd never been delegated the power.

The Mashable article did reference a NY Times article, but that was the closest to a "known" news site I could find. The rest were various left-field sites whose coverage consisted mostly of quoting the Mashable and NY Times articles (and with miles-long "comments" sections). I've yet to see anything from EFF - at their website, via their FaceBook group or even their Twitter feed - on the subject. I've not even seen anything posted, yet, by Declan McCullagh. Both sources tend to be pretty on top of and vocal about news stories in this vein.

Absent the other usual suspects' mention, I became suspicious. I mean, while the TSA and other organizations frequently trample on the 4th Amendment, they at least try to make it look like they aren't. And, when they do, EFF, ACLU and other organizations are generally pretty vocal and public with their opposition. Secondly, governmental seizures are usually the domain of the DoJ and FBI, not DHS and certainly not ICE. DHS is usually "terrorism" oriented and ICE is generally immigration oriented. Piracy-enabling websites wouldn't really seem to logically fall under either of those domains.So, I started digging.

First of all, the sites that were supposedly taken down by ICE are all redirected to This seems odd, to me. I mean, if these were truly the result of governmental actions, wouldn't they have redirected to seizedservers.GOV, instead. So, I poked about a bit more.

I did an IP lookup on the web site. Using `nslookup`, I found that the IP associated with that site was "". Next, I queried the ARIN to see who owned that IP address. The results indicated that the IP address was owned by a Carolina-based ISP.

Curiouser and curiouser: why would the IP be owned by a Charlotte-area ISP rather than some government agency. I mean, it's not like the Federal government's short on IP addresses they could delegate to DHS or ICE. After all, both Senate.Gov and House.Gov are run off of Federal IP ranges. And, yes, I get that many of the Federal government's public webhosting is done through external providers (I used to work for a site that hosted USPS's stuff). However, most of the sites I've done lookups against that are externally hosted, seem to be hosted by Akamai, these days. For example, both the White House and the main DHS web site seemed to be hosted by them. ICE, as a sub-department of DHS would, logically, have similar hosting arrangements. 

Lastly, was only registered on November 24th of this year and just days prior to the supposed domain seizures. I've done a lot of work with governmental groups over the years. None of them go from "just registered" to actively working in less than a week (usually, you're talking months, quarters or even years).

I realize I could easily be wrong, but none of it seems to "add up". To me, it looks more like it's either a hoax to get the file-sharing community up in arms or that the sites got their domains stolen (by "hackers", not the US government). Can anyone provide definitive proof that this is "for real". It seems like a pretty big story for the mainstream news outlets and the various rights and privacy groups to be asleep at the wheel on.

No comments:

Post a Comment