Online censorship

Yet again the American government oversteps the line, this time by shutting down websites which they decide they don’t want online. Earlier last week the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “seized” the domain name of torrent-finder.com – if you go there now, what you see is this image:

[source: EasyDNS blog]

There are two problems (I see) with this: (1) DHS clearly doesn’t understand how torrents work, and (2) the U.S. Government think they have the right to police the internet.

  1. Torrent sites like torrent-finder.com and The Pirate Bay don’t hold any (allegedly) copyright-infringing material – they simply hold the information which lets torrent clients reach the sites which contain the files. If anyone should be investigated, it’s the sites which hold the actual files… but they’re not usually hosted within the U.S., which leads me to my other point…
  2. The U.S. Government may have dominion over U.S. based sites but certainly has no legal claim over sites hosted elsewhere. Unfortunately they are bullies who push other governments around, which is why The Pirate Bay was raided by the Swedish police. Fortunately the Swedes have more of a clue than the Americans, so the website was back online after three days but unfortunately some of the staff still have trumped up charges hanging over them. [source: Wikipedia]

As the EasyDNS blog post said, “First, they came for the file-sharing websites…”, reflecting the statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller. Few people complained about the “Cyber Monday Crackdown” by the DOJ and ICE – while I agree that stealing people’s copyright material is wrong (and illegal), isn’t it a civil matter which the MPAA & RIAA should pursue rather than the government? If someone steals one of my photos I don’t believe (or expect) the police should prosecute the thief – that’s for me to do through the courts.

3 Replies to “Online censorship”

  1. Given the muted response to those “seizures” and the embarrassing content of the leaks, it’s no surprise to see the U.S. Government’s reaction to the WikiLeaks [temporary IP address] release. Politicians are frothing at the mouth with rage and making outrageous accusations, never mind that WikiLeaks hasn’t been accused of any crime and certainly not found guilty of one.

    Amazon dumped WikiLeaks from its Web Services claiming their Terms of Service were broken. Jumping on the bandwagon, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the House Security Committee, said Amazon’s choice was “the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material.”

    Their DNS provider, everyDNS.net*, was fending off a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Hmmm. Who would benefit from blocking the WikiLeaks website just after they publish a lot of material which the U.S. government don’t want released?

    And what about the other sites which dropped WikiLeaks like a hot potato? Tableau Software have a free service for making graphs of data, which they initially trumpeted as a good thing and then rapidly backpedaled, kowtowing to political pressure and removing the data. The best part, though, is the reaction to their attempt to justify this act – it’s full of people saying they will never trust the company again and calling them cowards.

    *p.s. “WikiLeaks….NOT an easyDNS domain…everyDNS: NOT easyDNS

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