Some people still might be unaware of just how long the reach of Homeland Security has become. How about counterfeit goods as possible terrorism? That is what has been suggested fairly recently as DHS has begun to conduct an increasing number of raids in several states over the past few years aimed at rooting out this “threat to our liberty and economy.”
Operations such as 2012’s “Operation Fashion Faux Pas” was part of a six-month crackdown that closed 20 businesses. As the video below illustrates, hundreds of others have been swept up in similar raids, many of which began by scouring the Internet for key words and indicators of illegal activity.
The latest example of connecting counterfeit goods to possible acts of terrorism comes out of Amherst, New York where a group of kiosks in the Walden Galleria and Boulevard Mall were shut down. Statements by Homeland Security raise a few questions about their role in this type of crime, which is also mirrored in cybersecurity directives.
According to local CBS news affiliate, WIBV4, agents descended upon two shopping malls, seizing merchandise and closing five kiosks.
Disturbingly, WIBV4 provides a link in their article to “report a business for selling goods you believe to be counterfeit.” However, as we learned in the video above, most people can’t tell what is real or not, hence the alleged problem. And, according to Orange County News reporting on Operation Fashion Faux Pas:
It’s become progressively harder to tell what’s fake and what’s real that agents say they now rely on experts. (Source)
So, even though it is admitted that experts have to be called in for examination, the untrained public is being further encouraged to become involved in the snitch culture continuously promoted by Homeland Security in cooperation with media and other private companies.
Furthermore, as we learned from Operation In Our Sites, which led to the seizing of 150 domains on Cyber Monday in 2011, the sweep resulted in a guilty-until-proven-innocent framework where even linking to copyrighted material became part of the counterfeit-intellectual property dragnet. This was in addition to 82 sites seized in the first year of the Operation.
However, Homeland Security is apparently hell-bent upon bringing down its literal and virtual boot wherever it sees fit … naturally, all in the name of security:
Jim Spero, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Buffalo office of Homeland Security, says the sale of counterfeit goods – in Buffalo and beyond – poses a major security threat.
“When you purchase counterfeit goods, when you sell counterfeit goods, you don’t know who you’re dealing with. You don’t know what kind of criminal activity you’re supporting,” Spero said. “It’s actually organized crime that is behind the distribution of these goods. It could be terrorists as well.” (Source)
Other reports have cited cosmetics and suspicious chemicals as part of the justification for Homeland Security’s intervention, in addition to their argument that this type of activity is essentially economic terrorism.
Counterfeiting is a problem, true, but to the level of national security? The real threat to liberty and economic security on a national level more closely comes from the DHS itself and other dangerous agencies of the U.S. government which far outweigh the threat of getting ripped off at the mall.
Furthermore, in a time where the mere accusation of terrorism can get someone locked away indefinitely, it is troubling to see the term being used in such a flippant way.
What is your opinion? Should Homeland Security be devoted to this type of crime? Or is this just one more example of DHS asserting their right to intervene so that it can reach in and examine anyone, anywhere, anytime, and for any reason?
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