Global Intellectual Property Center

BLOG

Black Market Monday

Black Market Monday

As we click our way into the holiday shopping season, it is important to remain vigilant and educated as consumers. Not all websites are trustworthy, and it can be awfully easy to get duped into purchasing products that are not only illegal, but hazardous, too.

You can help protect yourself by being a smart online shopper — visit trusted sites and make sure that your checkout is secure (look for the “https” in the browser bar). But if you’ve found what looks like a good deal on a site you’re not familiar with, unfortunately there’s no hard and fast rule for online consumers to distinguish a rogue site from a legitimate retailer.

Many rogue websites, which provide pirated or counterfeit goods, are incredibly sophisticated and appear legitimate. Little do you realize that the merchandise that they sell is illegal or just plain dangerous, as is the case with consumer products ranging from holiday lights to baby cribs Not only does your money go to foreign criminal networks, but to add insult to injury, these websites also expose consumers to malicious computer viruses or even identity theft.

It’s a shame that we even have to worry about these multitudes of risks when shopping online. What’s even more maddening is that these risks are preventable. Our law enforcement agencies are doing excellent work to help protect Americans from rogue sites. Under Operation In Our Sites, the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in cooperation with the Justice Department and the IPR Center, have obtained court orders seizing the domain names of 200 sites in the past year and a half.  And just this past weekend, they seized dozens more. Our gratitude and thanks to Director Morton and all those who are working with him to protect American consumers from these online criminals. But many rogue sites operate entirely outside the United States and thus beyond the reach of our law enforcement agencies. That is why new legislation is needed — to provide a tool to cut off foreign rogue sites from the U.S. market.

The online marketplace is a beautiful, convenient instrument. Unfortunately, rogue sites are a blight of the Internet ecosystem and must be dealt with before more consumers fall prey to these money mongers who have total disregard for international laws and public health and safety standards.

Rogue sites legislation, which targets the worst-of-the-worst online counterfeiters and digital pirates, takes a huge burden off of the everyday consumer. Today’s the day to tell Congress that you don’t want your family, friends, or neighbors to be exposed to these criminals and the dangerous products they push. Perhaps while you’re clicking around on Cyber Monday, you could click here and tell your representatives that rogue sites legislation is essential to maintaining a vibrant, safe Internet marketplace.