Over the past year we’ve grown used to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement seizing piracy and counterfeit product related domains. Yesterday, however, a domain was seized which didn’t appear to sell or offer anything other than information.
Lowellsfacts.com, was a domain operated by anti-vaccine and self-described “medical research” and “truth information” blogger Lowell Hubbs. Others who appear to know the guy much better than us describe him as a deranged “batshit” conspiracy theorist, but since we do file-sharing news here at TorrentFreak and not pharmaceuticals or psychiatric studies, others more knowledgeable than us can decide if that’s a reasonable assessment.
We’re interested in something else; if Lowellsfacts.com was not a site offering unauthorized files or peddling counterfeit products, why would the feds seize it and put up the all too familiar ‘copyright’ notice?
Well, according to Lowell Hubbs himself, he’s the victim of foul play.
“Apparently, as I was told; there are links or hidden links hacked into my site that go to illegal porn and as well likely music down loads or movies, or links to counterfeit something,” Hubbs explains.
“I don’t know what is in there personally, nor how they did it, and I don’t know yet all of what is going on; I am just getting beginning information, by someone who has looked into it and is more knowledgeable than I as to computer systems,” Hubbs adds.
In a later update, Hubbs announced that he had found the problem. He asserts that someone had indeed hacked into this website and put up 17 pages and 70gig of files. He insists, however, that none of this is down to him.
“How in the hell would I have acquired anything like that? For anyone to believe I am responsible for that, I can tell you – you are flatout-insane!” he exclaims.
“Anyone with any common sense looking at this picture, would know the chance of that is zero! Period. Nice try though, just one more attempt to falsely destroy me, and a huge one. There is nothing these people will stop at in attempting to do so. Too much truth.”
If the claims of Hubbs being a conspiracy theorist are true, then this seizure – whether warranted or otherwise – is a gift to his cause, whatever that might be. Whether or not it will be a gift to the big pharmaceutical companies he’s been bad-mouthing for sometime will remain to be seen.
Hubbs’ site is now back up at VacFacts.info and aside from questionable content and quite a lot of cut and pastes, it doesn’t look like a hub of wanton copyright infringement or counterfeiting to us, at least in its current form.
Admittedly there are a multitude of worrying claims about Hubbs on the web (which we aren’t in a position to verify) and he clearly has dozens of enemies and it is feasible that ICE had good reasons to shut him down. That said, Hubbs doesn’t appear to have been informed about why his domain was taken and he’s clearly not under arrest.
So why has ICE seized the domain and put up the copyright notice? If we had some due process, some proper hearings which allow the facts to come out into the open and disputed or confirmed, any claims of copyright infringement could be assessed. As usual the public is in the dark.
Conspiracy theories can be dangerous things, and the information vacuum along with this very strange domain seizure simply throws fuel on the fire.
Update: It seems that Lowell Hubbs has some other conspiracies to think about today. Ars managed to speak with ICE who denied the seizure.
“It’s hard to say definitely what happened here, but it sounds a lot like someone disgusted by Hubbs’ anti-vaccine activism and paranoia hacked into his site, perhaps uploaded some porn just for fun, then pointed the site’s DNS record toward the ICE takedown banner.”