DHS ignores calls to investigate unlawful website takedown

Authorities in the United States and Mexico appear to have conspired to take down a political website, and the incident is being swept under the rug, setting a dangerous precedent.

Access recently reported that 1dmx.org, a site featuring user-submitted content on police abuse at political demonstrations in Mexico, was blocked from December 2013 through March 2014 by its domain host GoDaddy. Despite repeated requests by Access and our local partners, agencies on both sides of the border have refused to comment. If no answer is received by May 27, a lawsuit over the incident will be dismissed.

In December, GoDaddy stated that it blocked the site in response to a request by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Agent at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

After the DHS Agent appeared to confirm the incident in a phone call with our local partner, the Mexican digital rights group R3D, Access contacted various DHS, State Department, and Obama Administration officials on behalf of 1dmx.org, EFF, R3D, and Derechos Digitales. We received no formal response, despite sending a letter – twice – directly to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and writing to their Chief Privacy Officer Karen Neuman.

On the other side of the border, R3D is currently suing the Mexican government on behalf of 1dmx.org. In court papers, Mexican authorities denied they requested the domain name suspension. The denials came from various state and federal agencies, including those indicated by GoDaddy as having made the original request, the Secretaría de Gobernación (Ministry of Interior) and Comisión Nacional de Seguridad (Federal Police).

May 27 Deadline

Time is running out for 1dmx.org, who must submit documents showing the Mexican government is at fault by May 27th, otherwise the lawsuit will be dismissed. However, attorney Luis Fernando García of R3D says that if specific Mexican authorities are shown to have lied to the court, they will have committed a crime, and would face jail time.

Only the Dept. of Homeland Security knows for sure who requested the domain name takedown. Access repeats our call on the U.S. Government to stand behind its pronouncements on internet freedom and the importance of rule of law, by immediately responding to civil society’s call for an investigation into this incident, and revealing any involvement of Mexican officials.