The U.S. government for the first time has seized internet domains of online sites accused of selling pirated mobile applications, in this instance, Android apps.
Seizing domains is nothing new under the President Barack Obama administration. Usually, however, sites are shuttered for offering gambling, hawking counterfeit goods, or providing links to or streaming unauthorized movies and sporting events, or selling unauthorized copies of software. The government has seized more than 750 domains in the past two years under a program called “Operation in Our Sites.” (.pdf)
The domains seized, announced late Tuesday, include applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com. The servers of the targeted were largely hosted overseas, the authorities said. No arrests were announced.
The U.S. government has been seizing .com, .org. and .net domains with court approval, under the same civil seizure law the government invokes to seize brick-and-mortar drug houses, bank accounts and other property tied to illegal activity.
Most importantly, the United States has the legal right, it says, to seize any .com, .net and .org domain name because the companies that have the contracts to administer them are based on United States soil.