In its traditional Cyber Monday announcement, the U.S. government’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), a body managed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit, revealed that over a million websites had been seized this year as part of Operation In Our Sites.
Each year, the NIPRCC works in collaboration with a number of international law enforcement agencies, as well as organisations representing the electronics sector, luxury brands, and the entertainment world, to coordinate an operation designed to curtail the activities of counterfeiters by shutting down the websites via which they operate.
Around 33,600 website domain names were criminally seized this year in the collaborative effort between ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and an ever expanding web of international agencies such as Europol, Interpol and police agencies from 26 different countries.
IPR Center director Alex Khu has stated that: “Collaborative efforts with external law enforcement agencies and industry have led to a crackdown on intellectual property theft that negatively impacts economies and funds organizations involved in other criminal activities.”
Industry partners participating in the operation were also responsible for civilly seizing 1.21 million domain names and shutting down 2.2 million erroneous ecommerce links featured on social media platforms and third-party marketplaces.
In the U.S., once seized, domain names associated with counterfeiting and fraudulent websites are generally redirected to the NIPRCC’s seizure banner which, the organisation asserts, “serves as a tool in educating the public about the perils of counterfeit items available on the Internet.”
Commenting on the seizures, Alex Khu asserted that: “The IPR Center is committed to supporting enforcement actions that target copyright-infringing websites threatening the health and safety of unsuspecting consumers by offering dangerous counterfeit goods.”
Indeed, among the websites seized this year were several involved in the sale of fake automotive parts, such as airbags and integrated sensors, all of which have the potential to be extremely hazardous to consumers.
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