Why is Homeland Security involved in shutting down bittorrent sites?

Can someone explain why the Department for Homeland Security is getting involved in busting “piracy” sites like the bittorrent site “elite torrents”? I can understand why the Justice Department is the enforcement body for copyright, but isn’t Homeland Security supposed to fight terrorism? I don’t understand why this hasn’t been a bigger issue. What does bittorrent have to do with terrorism? Did they need some positive news coverage of a big bust? Is it that difficult for Homeland Security to find terrorists in this country? Pirates need a lobby. That’s all there is to it. Let’s put all the money we saved from buying CD’s and create a Pro-Piracy Lobby. How much would it take? 25 million dollars? Bill Gates needs to get behind this. These types of busts represent one more ridiculous layer of bureaucratic police-state ballyhoo. I’m very appreciative of the libertarian point of view of small government since if you found some way to drain all the money away from government they’d be less likely to engage in unpopular and short-sighted enforcement regimes.

The government is against drugs, prostitution, internet gambling, and piracy for one major reason and one reason only: all these things decentralize and support an underground, unregulated economy (even a separate underground society). Even if that economy has nothing to do with making actual money, like piracy, it still presents a problem for government because it exists independently of the world constrained by government. Since underground economies exist outside the law and do not pay taxes they cannot be tracked or easily controlled.

Control and knowledge are very important to the people who run the government because knowledge is power. Money is equally important because money is the central mechanism of our society since money is the most basic and fluid unit of exchange. As a corollary of Herbert’s line, if you can tax a thing, you can control a thing. Anything that cannot easily be taxed, tracked, and controlled must therefore be criminalized. This is one of things I love about the Internet and digital networks. They connect people and operate below the radar. All matter of things have become decentralized. Look at the effects of eBay, VoIP, online pornography, online gambling, etc. It’s an entirely different world now. Let’s just hope it stays that way.

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