ICE shuts down 70 counterfeit websites

The seized websites often featured a type of security certificate that is used to show customers that their financial information will be kept safe when purchasing from the site. ICE said these certificates were used to dupe prospective buyers that the websites were legitimate.

The 70 seizures are part of the next phase of the “Operation in Our Sites” effort led by ICE and the Justice Department. The operation, launched in 2010, is aimed at clamping down on websites that illegally offer copyrighted material and counterfeit goods.

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Authorities must secure a court order from a federal magistrate judge before seizing a domain name, or Web address.

Critics of the operation have said it lacks due process for the domain name owners, and that the method ICE uses to seize the accused websites could harm the architecture of the Internet.

Federal authorities have seized a total of 839 domain names, including the latest round of seizures, according to ICE. Of that number, 229 domain names have been forfeited to the U.S. government.