Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates MORE (D-Ore.) spoke out against administration efforts to tear down rogue websites Wednesday, saying foreign governments could see the U.S. domain seizures as a "green light" to tamper with the Web in their countries.
Wyden has panned domain-name seizures before, writing to the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to question their policy of taking down websites that sell counterfeit and copyrighted goods.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Wyden said he sees a tension in the government between the aggressive ICE crackdown and the work of Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE to promote Internet freedom. The State Department funds technology aimed at derailing Web censorship by foreign regimes.
Wyden, who commended Clinton for her efforts and said he has spoken with her on the initiative, said domain-name seizures in the U.S. could be a setback to Clinton's Internet freedom work.
"Hopefully, her views will prevail, and not the views of ICE," he said.
Wyden said foreign governments might look at the domain seizures and say, "We've seen it done in the U.S. We have the green light to do it here in our country."
ICE has seized hundreds of domain names this year with warrants, although not without sometimes accidentally taking down sites that had done nothing wrong, according to reports.
The departments that take down websites say it is essential to follow thieves online, and point to the economic drain of intellectual property theft.