U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is in charge of immigration. That makes sense.
What does not make sense is the fact that the outfit is systematically shutting down websites run by Americans. Over the last two years, it has shut down 839 of them.
These sites have been selling things. Weird things. Things like jewelry, baby carriers, and software. All of this has looked very suspicious to senior officials in the ICE. Very suspicious. “Shut ’em down!”
Why? According to a press release issued by the ICE, these sites “closely mimicked legitimate websites selling authentic merchandise and duped consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods.”
So, why didn’t the Federal Trade Commission shut down these sites? Why is this a customs issue? The border with Mexico is a sieve. Why is the ICE wasting its resources shutting down websites?
It turns out that the ICE is in charge of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
Why? Because DHS is slowly asserting authority over more and more of American life.
Why? Don’t ask.
Here is the official ICE position. ICE director John Morton says the following.
“This operation targeted criminals making a buck by trying to trick consumers into believing they were buying name brand products from legitimate websites when in fact they were buying counterfeits from illegal but sophisticated imposter sites located overseas. The imposter sites were simply a fraud from start to finish and served no purpose other than to defraud and dupe unwary shoppers.”
It seems that the products are shipped from outside the United States.
So, charge customs duties. Take in more tax revenue. Don’t shut down the sites.
Why should an organization devoted to stopping immigrants and taxing imports devote any resources to determining which goods are counterfeit? What has that got to do with collecting sales taxes on imported goods?
This is one more example of bureaucratic turf creep. An agency wants more power. It wants lager annual budgets. So, it asserts new jurisdictions. Step by step, it expands its authority until another bureaucracy challenges it. “That’s our turf! That’s our jurisdiction! That’s our budget!”
Sadly, voters rarely challenge turf creep. They do not see that their liberties are being shut down, move by move.