WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange launched the website’s new project Thursday, the publication of hundreds of files it claims shows a global industry that gives governments tools to spy on their citizens.
The Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has amped up their efforts taking down more than 130 websites, one of which comes from a domain name provider in Australia. It’s all part of Cyber Monday Crackdown, a program that went after counterfeit goods, and online piracy, right before the busiest online shopping day of the year.
Federal agencies launched a similar raid on counterfeiters last Cyber Monday, closing down 82 websites.
The closed sites now display a notice that they have been closed for copyright infringement.
“For most, the holidays represent a season of good will and giving, but for these criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. “More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, American business profits stolen, and American consumers receiving substandard products.”
“The ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime,” Morton added.
Since “Operation In Our Sites” was launched in June 2010, 350 domain names have been seized. Of these seizures, 116 have been forfeited and are now the property of the federal government.
After seizure, the websites become billboards for educating the public about counterfeiting. The IPR estimates that the counterfeiting sites have received 77 million individual page views since they were seized.
“Domain name seizers are blunt instruments that cause unacceptable collateral damage to free speech rights,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman argues.
It’s not just counterfeiters that are preying on online shoppers, thought–according to spam fighter Cloudmark, a massive spam campaign has been launched, disguised as UPS notices. The spam looks like a notice from the United Parcel Service, and claims that individuals’ packages cannot be delivered on time.
“The ‘from’ address is faked so that it appears to come from the domain ups.com,” Angela Knoxwrites on Cloudmark’s blog. “Many of the images are copied from legitimate UPS emails and many of the links go to the legitimate UPS site.”
Fake UPS Notice
These are not legitimate UPS notices, however, and so clicking the ‘Track your shipment now’ link will take you to a website that will deliver a virus.
Cloudmark advises customers to take the time to check the original shipping confirmation that comes directly from the online vendor where the purchase was made. If you must check UPS’s site, go directly to UPS and plug in your tracking number–don’t click on any links from emails.
Even though no one was trampled to death this year, Black Friday brought on several violent incidents: one woman pepper sprayed twenty people in a Walmart in Los Angeles over an Xbox, a security guard pepper sprayed customers fighting over electronics in North Carolina, and a police officer ended up bloodying a man who was trying to hide a video game from other shoppers. If somehow you were able to escape the madness and missed the deals, there’s always Cyber Monday, which is starting early this year.