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Old 2010-07-20, 10:38   Link #40
Kaijo
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Somewhere over the rainbow, in a house dropped on an ugly, old woman.
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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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