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It is becoming normal for websites to disappear

One minute Kim Dotcom is running a successful file sharing website, renovating his mansion, driving his luxury cars and sailing on a superyacht surrounded by topless girls. The next, his birthday party is being raided by New Zealand police with helicopters and automatic rifles. Living in New Zealand, hosting his website in Hong Kong, and running the site as a file storage service similar in many ways to DropBox or Microsoft’s SkyDrive did not help him.

The New Zealand police simply did the FBI’s bidding. The indictment states that, due to various workings of MegaUpload such as the way users could get paid for hosting popular files and unpopular files would get deleted, it is not just a file storage service like DropBox. This is not unreasonable.

But it is, perhaps, surprising that the assertions of the FBI are enough to remove a well known web site from the Internet. It turns out they can already do that, even the day after the anti-SOPA protests during which everyone complained that the government would be able to take down websites if this scary new bill passed.

Meanwhile in the UK it looks likely that ISPs will be told to block access to PirateBay.

I’m not necessarily arguing that Dotcom and PirateBay are good guys, although their copying of bits of information is arguably peaceful while states’ reactions are violent.

But there is a trend here I don’t like. There was a time when you could host your web site in the right jurisdiction and it would not be touched. Now governments are learning how to apply various laws to remove them. Forcing ISPs to block access makes life less pleasant for ISPs, and it is likely to be somewhat effective. I expect more websites to disappear, and I expect this to become more commonplace. Eventually it will be normal and no longer newsworthy.

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17 comments to It is becoming normal for websites to disappear

  • Donavon Pfeiffer Jr

    I can’t believe that file sharing sites are being shut down by Homeland Security. So are “Free TV” sites. What do either have to do with protecting the security of the homeland? And “Homeland Security”? Really, when did Orwell become the principle guide for governing instead of a warning?

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    What can we do about this? Any suggestions?

    I’ve got a few ideas of my own, but I’m absolutely not an expert in these matters, and I’m loathe to discuss them on what is, after all, a public website.

  • another_anon

    “I can’t believe that file sharing sites are being shut down by Homeland Security. So are “Free TV” sites. What do either have to do with protecting the security of the homeland? And “Homeland Security”? Really, when did Orwell become the principle guide for governing instead of a warning?”

    Apparently pedophiles are threat to national security as well:

    (Link)

  • PersonFromPorlock

    What can we do about this? Any suggestions?

    I’ve got a few ideas of my own, but I’m absolutely not an expert in these matters, and I’m loathe to discuss them on what is, after all, a public website.

    Posted by Schrodinger’s Dog at February 23, 2012 06:05 PM

    Maybe the ISPs could be a little less supine? A coordinated dropping of all .gov websites might have a sobering effect.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    “I can’t believe that file sharing sites are being shut down by Homeland Security. So are “Free TV” sites. What do either have to do with protecting the security of the homeland? And “Homeland Security”? Really, when did Orwell become the principle guide for governing instead of a warning?”

    Apparently pedophiles are threat to national security as well:

    (Link)

    Posted by another_anon at February 23, 2012 07:52PM

    This is really pretty simple: political parties are an ‘essential’ part of American government and the people Homeland Security is protecting with these actions are big contributors to political parties. QED.

    The pedophiles are a freebie.

  • veryretired

    It is only the utterly naive and utterly foolish who believe that saintly state cadres will always and only act in the public interest, and never for any baser motives.

    But any rational analysis of the history of state action, regardless of the type of political system being examined, will show, with numbing regularity, that state operatives routinely act in concert with the needs of the most powerful interest groups in their society.

    All regulatory agencies invite, even welcome, capture by those whom they are supposed to be monitoring. The more the state is involved in regulating, the more this capture happens. It is a variant of Acton’s law, and every bit as inevitable.

    Reduce the power and scope of the state, and its controls on ordinary human activity that threatens no one with force or fraud, and the opportunities for this form of graft farming wither on the vine.

    Indeed, strike at the root of state corruption, which is the length and breadth of its power, and the money, which so many mistake for the corrupting factor, disappears.

    When the power of the state is a dagger that can be purchased and plunged into the backs of one’s economic adversaries, only a fool goes about unarmed.

  • There was a time when you could host your web site in the right jurisdiction and it would not be touched. Now governments are learning how to apply various laws to remove them.

    Or creating new laws. Or just ignoring the laws.

    I expect more websites to disappear, and I expect this to become more commonplace. Eventually it will be normal and no longer newsworthy.

    That’s what they want to happen. It’s time for people to fight back — a good way is to join the Pirate Party: there are elections in most of the UK this May, become a Pirate candidate and use the electoral process to spread awareness.

  • Stephen Willmer

    Schrodinger’s dog, so do I. Although my relative ignorance of these things may mean that such ideas as I possess are utterly worthless. Swillmer@btinternet.com

  • Bruce Hoult

    It is certainly concerning that things used and depended on by large numbers of people, often for perfectly legitimate purposes, can be simply disappeared at will, without due process.

    It was correct for our police to cooperate with american authorities in locating the accused, though I’m a bit surprised how enthusiastically and melodramatically they did so.

    When I first heard about it I had every hope that NZ courts would show a bit more independence. So far I think they are. Everyone is now out on bail and there are signs that the US is going to be asked some pretty tough questions about what, exactly, is illegal and how they come to have jurisdiction over citizens of foreign countries, living in other foreign countries, and doing business in yet other foreign countries.

    Does the USA claim ownership over the entire internet? I think this will be interesting, and extradition will not be fast.

  • Paul Marks

    In “political science” circles the debate is between “Federalists” (going back to Kant and before) who believe in such things a formal European and World Federation (with a formal Federal government), and the “functionalists” who believe in a step-by-step approach of European and (now) world “governance” by intergovernmental agreements.

    This New Zealand case (and the global internet interventionism) is an example of the latter school of thought – world “governance” rather than the formal World Government.

    “And what about people who are opposed to both formal Federations and functionionalist “governance” agreements?”

    Oh we do not have a school of thought – at least not as far as academia and the rest of the international elite are concerned.

    “But Paul there are localists”.

    “Localism” is just about getting world policies into local areas (via Adgenda 21 and so on).

    Just as “Community Organizers” are about getting more funding and regulations (and so on).

    Independent places that have FUNDAMENTALLY different laws (whether on the copyright, or on free speech or on “discrimination” or on – well anything) are not on the agenda of enlighted people.

  • Laird

    I certainly hope you’re right, Bruce. The US needs to be taken down a notch or two.

  • Laird

    I certainly hope you’re right, Bruce. The US needs to be taken down a notch or two.

  • renminbi

    As an American I wish more foreign gov’ts would show some spine and tell our gov’t to fuck off on these matters. Actually it would also be nice if our electorate did the same.

  • Anonymous

    The rumor about the raid on Kim DotCom is that it’s even worse than it looks.

    The story goes that treaty used to justify the attack was never approved by Congress. BHO instead signed it without authorization, nor the power to approve it.

    Not really enough of a lawyer or expert to say how true that is.

  • Alisa

    Rob:

    I’m not necessarily arguing that Dotcom and PirateBay are good guys, although their copying of bits of information is arguably peaceful while states’ reactions are violent.

    As someone who is not familiar with the technical details of the website in question, I am not necessarily arguing about these guys’ goodness or badness either, but if it just so happens that they are bad guys, then their “copying of bits of information” is no more peaceful than any other kind of non-violent(?) theft, is it?

    There was a time when you could host your web site in the right jurisdiction and it would not be touched.

    But that’s not the point either: what if we were talking about a website that is engaged in something much more horrendous than a “mere” theft of someone’s intellectual property, such as, say, human trafficking?

    The important point being missed here is that the site was shut down without any due process on the part of any of the governments involved (and there are at least 3 of them, as far as I can see), with the site’s owners having been given no opportunity to even reply to the accusations levied against them. That’s the real problem here, IMHO.

  • Calico Jack

    Torrentfreak is a good place to see the sheer extent of the ongoing crackdown…and it’s massive. Even SOCA have been getting involved. The threat directed at individuals on the RnBXclusive.com website after it was taken down by the Serious Organised Crime Agency was so unprofessional it was thought by many people to be a hoax.

  • Paul Marks

    Veryretired is correct.

    Even where there is no ideology involved (and there is now – the ideology of “enlighened” world “governance) the very nature of government (i.e. force and fear) leaves it open to moral corruption.

    That is why liberty only survives when there is another “city” to flee to.

    It is why the Roman Empire (a de facto monopoly state) grow more and more towards tyranny.

    And is is why both Italian and German unifications were a “bad thing” (as Lady B. would have said).

    And why world “governance” (via treaties and so on) is a bad path.