Updated The US government has seized 70 sites allegedly offering counterfeit goods or links to copyright-infringing material.
Among the domains seized was a BitTorrent meta-search engine Torrent-Finder.com, along with other music linking sites. Other sites on the hitlist allegedly sold fake designer clothes.
Surfers visiting the seized sites were confronted by a notice from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, part of the US Department of Homeland Security, instead of the expected content.
"[The] domain www.torrent-finder.com has been seized by US government without any previous notice from any court or even a warning email," Waleed Gadelkareem, the owner of the site told us by email on Sunday. "Moreover, [there is] no phone number or email or even a website the notice referred to that I can contact to get more information."
"My domain registrar Godaddy still has no idea what is going on and ICANN does not reply my emails," he added.
Some of the sites affected have continued trading via alternative addresses.
Online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a statement on Monday strongly condemning the seizures of what it estimates are 82 allegedly copyright infringing domains over recent days. It argues the confiscation of domains not only tramples on due process but is a waste of resources on an exercise that ultimately does little to combat copyright infringement.
ICE told the New York Times that the seizures were part of an "ongoing investigation" but declined to elaborate, beyond saying court-issued seizure warrants were involved.
“ICE office of Homeland Security Investigations executed court-ordered seizure warrants against a number of domain names," it said. "As this is an ongoing investigation, there are no additional details available at this time.”
The seizures happened as a new bill, the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, is passing through Congress. ®