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Old 2010-07-17, 09:37   Link #21
TigerII
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
God, this is as bad as reading Slashdot.

Start by reading this post and the linked discussion at webhostingtalk. Here are a few pieces of factual information to consider before this gets blown further out of proportion:

1) It wasn't Wordpress; it was one guy with a single leased server (and no backups). He offered free blog hosting and supposedly had 73,000 customers. His hosting service (BurstNet) was approached by Federal authorities and told to take the server offline. They did so. Whether Burst was presented with a court order or a Patriot Act request or something else is not known. What Burst did say was that some of the hosted materials violated the terms-of-service agreement which the blog hoster agreed to when leasing the server.

2) No one outside Burst and the authorities involved know what the server is alleged to contain, but this case looks nothing at all like mere copyright infringement. More likely the machine contained child pornography or perhaps even state secrets.

3) What probably happened was that the FBI confiscated the server for further forensic review. In cases like this, Burst is forbidden from informing the lessor why the server was taken offline to avoid impeding further investigation. I suspect the PATRIOT act was invoked, but others in the web hosting business said that child pornography would have resulted in the same type of gag order being imposed.

4) The 73,000 bloggers essentially represent "collateral damage" here. In a posting I made on Slashdot, I likened the situation to a magazine with lots of individual contributors. If one of the contributors posted child pornography in his or her article, you can be sure the magazine would be impounded regardless of whether the other articles were totally legitimate.

5) The guy running this service seems like a whiny nutcase. It apparently never crossed his mind that giving away free blogs to all comers might encourage someone to store illegal materials on the server he was renting. He figured he could sit at home and watch his AdSense revenues come rolling in without having to pay attention to what was actually on the machine. Yes, with 73K accounts that would be a difficult thing to do, but no one said running a blogging host was going to be easy. Whether the hoster has some type of editorial responsibility is an important policy issue that, as far as I know, has not been extensively considered or litigated (outside of the take-down provisions of the DMCA that govern potential copyright infringement).

There are lots of complicated issues here, but imagining that the stormtroopers have arrived and are trampling on free speech and small animals is an over-exaggeration. If you want to have a serious discussion about how blogging should be treated in terms of free-speech issues, let's have that discussion. There are already four pages over at Slashdot on how the US is now like China and how fascism is on the rise in America. Let's not replicate that conversation here.
Hey, in the post right above yours I said it was claimed for terrorism and child porn, lol.
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Old 2010-07-17, 10:18   Link #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
God, this is as bad as reading Slashdot.

Start by reading this post and the linked discussion at webhostingtalk. Here are a few pieces of factual information to consider before this gets blown further out of proportion:

1) It wasn't Wordpress; it was one guy with a single leased server (and no backups). He offered free blog hosting and supposedly had 73,000 customers. His hosting service (BurstNet) was approached by Federal authorities and told to take the server offline. They did so. Whether Burst was presented with a court order or a Patriot Act request or something else is not known. What Burst did say was that some of the hosted materials violated the terms-of-service agreement which the blog hoster agreed to when leasing the server.

2) No one outside Burst and the authorities involved know what the server is alleged to contain, but this case looks nothing at all like mere copyright infringement. More likely the machine contained child pornography or perhaps even state secrets.

3) What probably happened was that the FBI confiscated the server for further forensic review. In cases like this, Burst is forbidden from informing the lessor why the server was taken offline to avoid impeding further investigation. I suspect the PATRIOT act was invoked, but others in the web hosting business said that child pornography would have resulted in the same type of gag order being imposed.

4) The 73,000 bloggers essentially represent "collateral damage" here. In a posting I made on Slashdot, I likened the situation to a magazine with lots of individual contributors. If one of the contributors posted child pornography in his or her article, you can be sure the magazine would be impounded regardless of whether the other articles were totally legitimate.

5) The guy running this service seems like a whiny nutcase. It apparently never crossed his mind that giving away free blogs to all comers might encourage someone to store illegal materials on the server he was renting. He figured he could sit at home and watch his AdSense revenues come rolling in without having to pay attention to what was actually on the machine. Yes, with 73K accounts that would be a difficult thing to do, but no one said running a blogging host was going to be easy. Whether the hoster has some type of editorial responsibility is an important policy issue that, as far as I know, has not been extensively considered or litigated (outside of the take-down provisions of the DMCA that govern potential copyright infringement).

There are lots of complicated issues here, but imagining that the stormtroopers have arrived and are trampling on free speech and small animals is an over-exaggeration. If you want to have a serious discussion about how blogging should be treated in terms of free-speech issues, let's have that discussion. There are already four pages over at Slashdot on how the US is now like China and how fascism is on the rise in America. Let's not replicate that conversation here.
There still is a major problem here. The government said "Do this" and it was done, with no real reason given. That's how it works in dictatorships, but not how it's supposed to work here. If you have something seized, you're supposed to be told why, and be given a chance to fight it. You're supposed to be able to see the evidence against you, and it doesn't look like the case here.

In short, child pornography and terrorism are the new boogymen. Would it have sounded better if they said, "We're seizing this because there is some pinko-commie material on it" ? Or perhaps "We're seizing this farm because the owner is a witch!"

This kind of behavior is the norm for places like China, but you have to ask yourself if this is what you want in the US (or your country). Do you want the authorities to just be able to take anything without having to prove why? To just utter the "magic scary words of the day" and have us surrender due process?

"SeijiSensei, we, the government say you are a pedophile/child pornographer/terrorist/commie/witch and thus are taking your stuff away from you. Oh, and you can't see the evidence or reasons why."

Do any of you want that to happen to you?

If there was child porn on it, they could have requested info on the person who owned the blog and had that one blog taken down and the material deleted. Or several blogs. But what possible reason could there be to take down the whole lot and remain secret?

State secrets? Again, they can request that the blogs holding them get taken down. Or the people who own those blogs tracked back to the owners physical location.

Suppose a blog had info on a politician doing something illegal? Shut down the whole lot of them so no one knows why, and the information is buried.

There are still too many unknowns here, and it feels fishy. Regardless of how whiny the guy is, due process must be followed. The Patriot Act has, of course, chipped away at our rights for due process, capitalizing on the fear of the sheep.

The US is not China. But I wish more people would fight to prevent the US from becoming like China instead of blindly accepting that the government is always doing the right thing. As a president once said, "Trust, but verify." Well, right now, we have no way to verify, which just leaves you there, trusting and hoping that somehow the US government is on the side of the angels. And given what the US has done in the past few years, is that a bet you really want to make?
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Old 2010-07-17, 10:34   Link #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
Spoiler for snip:
This reminds me quite a lot of Stalin's purges, although it doesn't mess with people's lives. That by itself might sound better to some people seeking political correctness, but for something like that to be taken down because of the possibility that state secrets are being revealed by some people is despicable. The people deserve to know the truth about the people who're running their country for them. They put them in power after all. At least, that's the idea behind the kind of democracy the US is supposed to be. Truth is, I think it's just as bad because it strips people of their right to knowledge and freedom of speech and thought. The inet provided that to people, and the US is attempting to regulate it to a great extent and in doing so is also affecting people outside of the US. The inet is a worlwide tool used by millions of people, and one country has no right to take that away from them.
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Old 2010-07-17, 11:22   Link #24
Tenken's Smile
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Blogs that are involved in illegal activities deserve to be shut down.
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Old 2010-07-17, 11:48   Link #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenken's Smile View Post
Blogs that are involved in illegal activities deserve to be shut down.
How do you know they were involved in illegal activities?
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Old 2010-07-17, 12:05   Link #26
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Down with child porn! I don't like having sex with 10 year old boys.
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Old 2010-07-17, 12:09   Link #27
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I agree that the reason for the takedown should have been released. There's absolutely no reason to hide that, and that is worrisome.

The fact that the blogs have been taken down have already tipped off the child pornographers/terrorists/whatever. They're already scrambling to put as much electronic distance between themselves and federal investigators as possible.

The only reason they wouldn't release any information is if they only suspect but have no proof, and don't want to be caught holding the bag if they're wrong. More incompetence than actual malice, which is par for the course for the US government circa 2010.
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Old 2010-07-17, 13:58   Link #28
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
I agree that the reason for the takedown should have been released. There's absolutely no reason to hide that, and that is worrisome.

The fact that the blogs have been taken down have already tipped off the child pornographers/terrorists/whatever. They're already scrambling to put as much electronic distance between themselves and federal investigators as possible.

The only reason they wouldn't release any information is if they only suspect but have no proof, and don't want to be caught holding the bag if they're wrong. More incompetence than actual malice, which is par for the course for the US government circa 2010.
Heh, another of my favorite quotes, stolen from somewhere in someone's post: "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

The proof needs to be released, and it needs to be done ASAP. Because as things stand right now, *you* could be declared a child pornographer/pedophile with no recourse. And you can bet that will screw up your life, even if you are innocent.

I thought we moved beyond witch hunts 400 years ago, but I guess humanity still hasn't improved much.
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Old 2010-07-17, 14:11   Link #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
There still is a major problem here. The government said "Do this" and it was done, with no real reason given. That's how it works in dictatorships, but not how it's supposed to work here. If you have something seized, you're supposed to be told why, and be given a chance to fight it. You're supposed to be able to see the evidence against you, and it doesn't look like the case here.
You don't know what reasons were given to BurstNet. It's their server, not the lessor's. If he owned the server, the issues might be different. But the leased server contained material that did not comply with the contract he signed with the provider, and when asked to take it down, the provider did so.

You also don't know whether they brought a court order.

Quote:
In short, child pornography and terrorism are the new boogymen.
I'm pretty much of a free-speech absolutist, especially compared to most Americans, but these are complex issues. Let's start with child porn. I'm totally opposed to any attempt to classify drawn materials as obscene, but real child porn relies on the abuse of real children. I think that's wrong, and I support the efforts of law enforcement to try and end the practice. I'd prefer that the authorities make greater efforts to stop the abuse itself, but I do think distribution of real child porn should be illegal and agree we should stop such distribution if possible. I also think law enforcement spends too much time on the recipients of these materials and too little on the producers.

Quote:
Would it have sounded better if they said, "We're seizing this because there is some pinko-commie material on it" ? Or perhaps "We're seizing this farm because the owner is a witch!"
Of course not. But you don't really know what was on the server, do you?

If you want to protect your free speech rights, you need to operate your own server, and you need to house it somewhere other than a hosting provider. If someone knocked on my door tomorrow morning and told me to take down the web server operating in my back room, I'd expect to see a warrant, and I'd call my attorney before complying. In fact I've had some conversations with friends and colleagues who are attorneys about the circumstances under which materials might be confiscated. (No, I'm no engaged in illegal activities, but I do host some materials that might be subject to subpoena in a civil action.) I'd probably also want to have at least two Internet connections in case one was taken down before my attorney could intervene.

There are two centures of jurisprudence concerning the "search and seizure" provisions of the Fourth Amendment. How we adapt those concepts to the virtual world is an intriguing question, but it's going to take another decade at least before potentially relevant cases work their way through the courts. There is a lot of law about whether something in your home has more protection than something in your office, and whether something you've stored in a third-party location qualifies for constitutional protections. Materials stored in safe deposit boxes, to take an analogous physical container to a leased server, don't have the same constitutional protections as material stored in your home or on your person.

Quote:
"SeijiSensei, we, the government say you are a pedophile/child pornographer/terrorist/commie/witch and thus are taking your stuff away from you. Oh, and you can't see the evidence or reasons why."
I don't like the notification aspects of the PATRIOT Act, either, and I'd like to see them overturned. At some point either Congress will revoke these provisions of the law, or they will be subject to judicial review and hopefully ruled as unconstitutional.

Quote:
If there was child porn on it, they could have requested info on the person who owned the blog and had that one blog taken down and the material deleted. Or several blogs. But what possible reason could there be to take down the whole lot and remain secret?

State secrets? Again, they can request that the blogs holding them get taken down. Or the people who own those blogs tracked back to the owners physical location.
Because law enforcement takes a very hands-on approach to these situations. They're primarily concerned about the physical device, not the virtual servers it might contain. Let's take your approach. The FBI show up and ask the provider to take down just one of the 73,000 blogs. First, the ISP itself isn't dealing with the end-users, they're leasing a server to someone under contract. So they'd need to figure out how the information is stored on the lessor's server (including dealing with whatever encryption might be in use), then figure out which materials need to be removed, and then do so. Do you think that's likely in practice compared to pulling the plug on the box and handing it over for forensic examination? There could be a lot of other information on that server that might be pertinent to the investigation as well, like accounting data that might point to the identification and arrest of the person(s) who posted the material.

Do you expect them to notify the lessor first? What if he or she is complicit in the alleged illegal activity and not simply being exploited as a passive entity?

Quote:
Suppose a blog had info on a politician doing something illegal? Shut down the whole lot of them so no one knows why, and the information is buried.
Do you really think that in a case like this there wouldn't be other copies of the material on other servers or in desk drawers or safe deposit boxes?
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Old 2010-07-17, 14:12   Link #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
Heh, another of my favorite quotes, stolen from somewhere in someone's post: "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

The proof needs to be released, and it needs to be done ASAP. Because as things stand right now, *you* could be declared a child pornographer/pedophile with no recourse. And you can bet that will screw up your life, even if you are innocent.

I thought we moved beyond witch hunts 400 years ago, but I guess humanity still hasn't improved much.
Witch hunts always existed. The witches were just never witches to begin with. At first they were heretics and "anti-religious" resistance groups. Then they were suspects of a single man's excessive paranoia on one side, or communists on the other side of the warzone. Then, the witches became child rapists, or they became terrorists. But they still exist, and they always have. The simple reason for that is because the media wants to give people something to entertain them, and there's nothing more entertaining than something to hate: a common enemy.
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Old 2010-07-17, 14:38   Link #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenken's Smile View Post
Blogs that are involved in illegal activities deserve to be shut down.
The problem here is really how many of those blog owners had illegal material on their websites, and how many of them were innocent. Outside of that, though, I have to agree with Syn: the real problem here isn't so much that the blogs were taken down, but that the reason why they were taken down hasn't been announced yet.
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Old 2010-07-17, 14:43   Link #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
Heh, another of my favorite quotes, stolen from somewhere in someone's post: "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

The proof needs to be released, and it needs to be done ASAP. Because as things stand right now, *you* could be declared a child pornographer/pedophile with no recourse. And you can bet that will screw up your life, even if you are innocent.

I thought we moved beyond witch hunts 400 years ago, but I guess humanity still hasn't improved much.
Nah, they don't.

They're the US government and they can do whatever they want to the Americans who have no power and no say in anything important in the country.

It's always been that way, so when I saw the headline, I just lol'd.
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Old 2010-07-17, 18:35   Link #33
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This is a primary reason why I would get myself a host and put my blog on there since I can't trust free blog hosts. Shared hosting doesn't cost a lot these days and you pretty much have full access to your Wordpress blog and backups. With free blog hosts, you don't know what they will do with your content and it doesn't trust them on backups and stuff, unless they are trustworthy.

The mass takedown of 70,000 blogs was a bit extreme and unncessary, but it's their problem since they don't have a "report a blog" feature to report and delete blogs that contain illegal content. If they took the time to check every blog that received a DMCA violation, they could of suspend the blog or delete it. The mass closure make it seem like that the US is censoring content and make them look like the bad guy...

If you really want to create a blog, don't trust these kinds of host... Just use Wordpress.com or a shared/self host.
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Old 2010-07-17, 19:38   Link #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
Of course not. But you don't really know what was on the server, do you?
That's pretty much the point. We don't know, and odds are, we'll never know. Doesn't that scare you at all? That the government can come along and just shut something down without having any sort of transparent process that can be evaluated?

Quote:
If you want to protect your free speech rights,
Stopping you right there. The whole point of having a constitution and a government bound by law, is that we shouldn't *have* to take extra steps to protect rights we should already have. Granted, in practice, you do have to take steps to protect yourself because there are always those who want more power over you. But your rights are exactly that; something that can't be taken away and should never be trampled upon.

Quote:
Let's take your approach. The FBI show up and ask the provider to take down just one of the 73,000 blogs. First, the ISP itself isn't dealing with the end-users, they're leasing a server to someone under contract. So they'd need to figure out how the information is stored on the lessor's server (including dealing with whatever encryption might be in use), then figure out which materials need to be removed, and then do so. Do you think that's likely in practice compared to pulling the plug on the box and handing it over for forensic examination? There could be a lot of other information on that server that might be pertinent to the investigation as well, like accounting data that might point to the identification and arrest of the person(s) who posted the material.
They could straight to the lessor and ask him. Show up with a warrant and/or court order and ask for registration information.

Quote:
Do you expect them to notify the lessor first? What if he or she is complicit in the alleged illegal activity and not simply being exploited as a passive entity?
Yes, I do. If you lease a car, how would you feel if the government just came by and took it. And when someone asked them why, all they would say is "it's connected with child porn and terrorism."

You wanna be known as a pedophile?

All I know is that something here stinks. I dislike authorities doing things in secret, without any oversight or transparency; that's just ripe for the abuse of power.
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Old 2010-07-17, 21:38   Link #35
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That's pretty much the point. We don't know, and odds are, we'll never know. Doesn't that scare you at all? That the government can come along and just shut something down without having any sort of transparent process that can be evaluated?
We have such a process already. It's called a warrant. I doubt very much that an ISP would turn over a server to the authorities without one. Doing so would, at a minimum, put the ISP at risk of being sued by the server's owner or lessor. I don't like the fact that the ISP can be subject to a gag order in some cases, but that's the result of a statute that can be overturned.

Quote:
The whole point of having a constitution and a government bound by law, is that we shouldn't *have* to take extra steps to protect rights we should already have.
Most "rights" are not absolute. For instance, if you're stopped while driving an automobile, and the cops find your stash in the trunk, you don't have the same constitutional protections as you would have if the stash were sitting in your desk drawer at home. That's been established law for years now when it comes to the driver and was recently extended (unanimously) to cover the passengers as well. There's a whole line of similar cases concerning roadblocks to identify drunken drivers. The Court held in 1990 that such practices do not contravene the Fourth Amendment.

Moreover, we have a well-established "transparent" procedure to change such rulings if enough people feel their rights are being trampled upon. Congress could make it unlawful to apply different standards to searches of vehicles than we apply to searches of persons. If Congress doesn't seem willing to act, there's always the procedure of amending the Constitution. Obviously neither of these methods is easy or quick, but that's the way it's been for over two centuries now.

Quote:
Granted, in practice, you do have to take steps to protect yourself because there are always those who want more power over you. But your rights are exactly that; something that can't be taken away and should never be trampled upon.
You seem to believe there are never any circumstances where it might be reasonable to assert a public interest that overrides your private "right." I disagree. For instance, I think the public has an interest in collective security. Your "right" to personal privacy while driving in a state of intoxication puts me at risk of death. Do you really want to argue that the police should never be able to stop you, test to see if you're driving drunk, and arrest you in cases where there evidence (aka "probable cause") to believe you pose a risk to the drivers around you? I have a friend who just recently defended someone on a drunken-driving charge. The crux of the defense was whether the defendant's behavior was sufficiently egregious to constitute "probable cause." That's a pretty common issue in a lot of drunken-driving cases.

The Fourth Amendment reads "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." There are some significant "weasel" words in this, like "unreasonable" and "probable cause." How about a case where you have two sets of books and base your tax filings on just one of them, while keeping the real information hidden? Should we consider it "unreasonable" to permit the government to seize that second set of accounts as part of an investigation into tax fraud? People who view all taxation as confiscatory would answer yes; the rest of us would probably agree that seizing the hidden records is justifiable.

I think you seriously underestimate the extent to which this kind of balancing of rights takes place within our legal system. Courts and legislatures have been dealing with these issues for decades and even centuries. There's an elaborately articulated structure of laws and judicial opinions concerning when rights might need to be limited for some broader public good. The Bill of Rights puts the onus on those advocating the limitations in these cases; that's why they are called "rights." I don't see some vast power-hungry conspiracy at work here, for there are lots of people who take seriously the task of protecting our rights when the government oversteps its bounds. Here's an example from just a few days ago. You may think (as do I) that in our current historical moment the state has more power than it should, but that's a question of balance that often takes years to resolve.

Quote:
They could straight to the lessor and ask him. Show up with a warrant and/or court order and ask for registration information.
What if the authorities believe the lessor is a party to the criminal conduct? Perhaps the judge was convinced that this approach had the potential to lead to the destruction of evidence so he or she agreed to let the authorities impound the server? Maybe one of those accounts belonged to a Russian spy?

I'm not saying that there aren't compliant or thoughtless judges; of course there are. "Shopping" for a compliant judge is a common practice in law enforcement. Still we have methods to control for that in the long term; that's what the appeals process is for. Maybe the government overreached in this specific case, maybe not. If they did, there are plenty of attorneys who'd be happy to help, and some of them might do it for nothing. I'd be surprised if Mr. Blog-Hoster, or one of the 73,000 bloggers, can't find someone at the EFF or the ACLU who would be interested in discussing this case. Considering the amount of hoopla it has generated in recent days, I suspect someone might have contacted him, or BurstNET, already.
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Old 2010-07-18, 10:30   Link #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
We have such a process already. It's called a warrant. I doubt very much that an ISP would turn over a server to the authorities without one.
And yet, if you'll remember, the Bush administration got plenty of private customer data from the Telcos, using illegal warrants at best. And in most cases, they just asked and it gets turned over. Warrentless wiretapping ring any bells? Passing laws to make it illegal for customers to sue the telcos for breaching their privacy? So maybe there is a warrant in this case.... and maybe there isn't.

The point is, we don't know.

Quote:
Most "rights" are not absolute. For instance, if you're stopped while driving an automobile, and the cops find your stash in the trunk, you don't have the same constitutional protections as you would have if the stash were sitting in your desk drawer at home.
I realize this. The problem, which you should well be aware of, is that: legal != right.

Since you read Slashdot, you should be aware of the Peter Watts case. For those who don't know, he's a Canadian sci-fi writer, who was crossing the border from teh US back to Canada. He was given two contradictory orders from police, and stood up out of his car in confusion to ask which one he should follow. He was promptly tackled, beaten, pepper spray'ed and had all his possessions confiscated. He was arressted for "assaulting a federal officer" and spent a night in a cold jail cell.

All perfectly legal, but by no means right. As far as I know, he was found guilty of the charge and sentenced to two years in jail, but the judge suspended the sentence, and I think he just has to pay a fine. I'm not sure if he got his stuff back. A FOIA request for the border video has been denied due to ongoing investigation.

One of his blog entries: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1186

The point is, we have to fight government douchebaggery on behalf of other people, wherever we see it. If we don't, it will continue to happen and it will get worse, until it does happen to you or someone you know. That's why I'm pushing on this, because it smells bad. It could be all legit and there could be damn good reasons, but we don't know. Until we do, I'll keep saying that we have to shine lights on things like this, get people motivated to speak up against it.

Quote:
Moreover, we have a well-established "transparent" procedure to change such rulings if enough people feel their rights are being trampled upon.
The problem is, most people feel it's always Someone Else's Problem. Not enough care, and that's why I make cases like this, to try and motivate people to care, so enough speak up. The process is idealistic, but reality seldom works that well.

Quote:
You seem to believe there are never any circumstances where it might be reasonable to assert a public interest that overrides your private "right."
Gonna stop you right here, because I don't believe this at all. I like free speech, but yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater is bad. Speech solely designed to motivate groups to violence is bad. Everything else, even if it's that Nazi KKK member shouting on the corner how much he hates Jews and blacks, should be allowed.

Quote:
How about a case where you have two sets of books and base your tax filings on just one of them, while keeping the real information hidden? Should we consider it "unreasonable" to permit the government to seize that second set of accounts as part of an investigation into tax fraud?
Not sure where you're going with this, because I think it's pretty obvious. If there's a crime going on, you do some investigation, gather some evidence, get a judge to sign off on a warrant, then seize those books. And you tell the press, "We seized some assets of [insert entity here] on the charge of tax fraud."

Simple. Then we go to trial and find out what the truth is (assuming it's a fair court).

But that's quite different than what happened here. No reason was given, and no charges filed, other than "child pornography and terrorism." I mean, come on, doesn't that raise any alarm bells with you? Those are incredibly vague things and not really linked, unless you know of terrorists that are also pedophiles. It sounds more like they are counting on people's brains shutting down the instant they hear those two "fear" words. They'd actually have more credibility if they only used one.

And you still haven't answered my question: What if it was you, and you were leasing a car and the authorities took it. They gave as their reason "connected with child pornography and terrorism." Is that a label you want applied to you, without anyone having to back up the charge? Do you want to be known as a pedophile and a terrorist?

Because you can just look at this thread, where we have several instantly willing to jump on the bandwagon and believe they "must" be guilty because the authorities said so. Even if you spend months (if not years), clearing the charge, you'll still have it hanging over you.

Legal != Right.

Quote:
Considering the amount of hoopla it has generated in recent days, I suspect someone might have contacted him, or BurstNET, already.
I am interested to hear more. It sounds like you've made up your mind that the government is all well and good, and that somehow the truth will be known eventually. Understandable, even though I'd call it a bit naive and idealistic. Me, I'm a bit more skeptical of things until I get a reason, especially when down by government organizations that have a history of incompetence, malice, and general douchebaggery.

Bad things happen, by bad people, and they do end up getting away with it. Especially if the people shrug their shoulders and don't raise a fuss.
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Old 2010-07-18, 14:13   Link #37
Ending
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Nope, didn't lose anything. Never wanted to use a 3rd party blog-service when I can always make one of my own. Just in case of situations like this. Click on the sig to see it yourself

Also: yes, I think it's a problem that the US authorities can do whatever they please and make you pay for it. Especially if you want to contest it in court.
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Old 2010-07-19, 21:21   Link #38
Vexx
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Just as an update from Slashdot -- more useful actual information:

"Over the weekend we discussed news that blog host Blogetery.com had been shut down at the request of the US government. Now, it appears the site was shut down because some of the blogs it was hosting contained information on al-Qaeda hit lists and bomb making. According to the article, Burst.net shut down Blogetery of its own accord after the FBI made a request to the host for information on the people who made the posts. '[Burst.net CTO Joe Marr] said the FBI contacted Burst.net and sent a Voluntary Emergency Disclosure of Information request. The letter said terrorist material, which presented a threat to American lives, was found on a server hosted by Burst.net and asked for specific information about the people involved. In the FBI's letter, the agency included a clause that says Web hosts and Internet service providers may voluntarily elect to shut down the sites of customers involved in these kinds of situations.'"

Now... one might debate how burst.net handled this or whether the government is clueless that this information isn't available in a dozen other ways (9/11 hysteria marches on), but at least its clear *what* is going on.
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Old 2010-07-20, 00:16   Link #39
Kudryavka
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You know the lock is coming when people start making fifty line posts.

@Vexx That's interesting, even though it still turned out being a taboo, insta-b& subject - bomb making and whatnot.
Even if there are a million other ways to learn how to build a truck bomb or find out which American is Most Wanted Dead, you can't blame the government for shutting down this method, right? Just because these are blogs doesn't mean that the government is being stupid or unfair if they shut them down first.
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Old 2010-07-20, 10:38   Link #40
Kaijo
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Ah, finally more information comes out, and I had to wait to read all comments, all sides of the debate, before deciding where I come out on this. The real facts seem to be that Burst.net received an FBI notice about a user on the Blogetry server who had al-quada hit lists, bomb-making material, and even messages from Osama Bin Laden (and what of the child pornography charge, or did that just disappear?). And an employee "erroneously" thought it meant they should shut down it down rather than deal with it.

There are two ways of looking at this:

#1. The best case is that it was still incompetence and stupidity on the part of Burst.net for misinterpreting the request and/or just shutting down the server, rather than make an effort to contact the lessor and have the single blog dealt with. They are within their rights, but that's just bad business; not the sort of company I'd want to do business with.

#2. The FBI really did "suggest" that they could shut down the server with the offending material, in the same vein as "Nice business ya got there; shame if something were to happen with it. But hey, you can just shut it down and we'll be good, ya?" Of course, not quite with so much hyperbole, but companies well know the government can make your life hell if you don't cooperate; just ask Quest.

I don't know which it was, and probably we'll never know the real truth, so for now I lay blame mostly on Burst.net for being douchebags. I also blame the atmosphere of fear that the government is making use of. I mean, seriously, it does no good to shut down an al-quada site, and you can find books in the library on bomb-making. If a real terrorist/communist/boogyman is involved, they'll have tons more ways to communicate and disseminate information. It's smarter just to listen in and watch the channels you know about. You shut down a known channel, and they'll just move to an unknown channel.

Stupid.

You monitor them and you can stop attacks before they happen, as well as arrest people. Also, there are plenty of servers outside of the US that the US government can't do squat about. And lastly, it's just bad form to try and squash freedom of information and freedom of speech. You let the loonies speak out so everyone can see how stupid they are; that's how you dismantle them.

Gonna repost a few comments from the slashdot discussion; while a bit crude, they kinda mirror my current thoughts:

"The responsible (if less "safe") thing to do is to make sure that law enforcement follows the law and procedure. If they don't have an actual warrant (or, today, a "National Security Letter"), then the proper -- and patriotic -- thing to do is refuse. If they do have a warrant or NSL concerning certain accounts, let them have those accounts. But ONLY those. Anything else is not only un-American, it is also screwing over your customers."

"What Burst.Net demonstrated was their NON-right to shut down a whole boatload of legitimate paying customers, apparently because law enforcement alleged (at the time) that some accounts might have contained terrorist material. That's not the same thing at all.

They voluntarily shut them ALL down, without so much as a warrant or National Security Letter regarding the alleged terrorist accounts, much less the vast majority who were guiltless. That's not patriotic, or responsible citizenship, or anything of the sort. What that is, is ball-less wimps getting on their knees in front of government goons, and cheating their customers in the process, because they were afraid."


I should clarify that there was only one paying customer, the lessor, and he let a number of people keep free blogs on it. So Burst.net was shutting down just one customer, but as I stated, the smarter thing to do would have been to contact the lessor and give him a chance to do something about it. From what I understand, he had responded to DMCA requests and such in the past, so there was every indication he would have dealt with the issue by deleting the one blog.

But this wasn't a valid notice from the FBI, so there was no above board pressure to do anything as drastic as doing a shut down. Typical overreaction due to fear.
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