Skip to comments.Mystery shrouds closures of blog, forum platforms
Posted on 07/19/2010 6:23:12 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
July 18, 2010 8:59 PM PDT Mystery shrouds closures of blog, forum platforms by Greg Sandoval Font sizePrintE-mailShare27 comments Yahoo! Buzz .Share 770diggsdiggTwo services that enable users to blog or create online forums have disappeared from the Internet under mysterious circumstances.
Blogetery.com, a blogging platform, went dark on July 9, less than a week before Ipbfree.com, a service that helped users create Web message boards, went offline. No one has said these situations are linked, but they nonetheless possess intriguing similarities.
Each of the services host loads of user-generated content. Operators at both Blogetery and Ipbfree said they were shut down and aren't coming back. Both said they obeyed copyright law. In each case, those with knowledge of who ordered the closures or the reasons why said they are legally required not to disclose that information.
"We are limited as to the details we can provide to you," BurstNet wrote to Blogetery's administrator. "Note that this was a critical matter and the only available option to us was to immediately deactivate the server."
This is the kind of Internet whodunit that tweaks the paranoia of many a Web user and file sharer. They are accustomed to seeing some of their favorite services shut down after running afoul of copyright laws, but a closure of a site for infringing content usually occurs after extended court battles and in the light of day. They aren't typically cloaked in secrecy. It's also rare to lose two such services in the same week.
While both situations are still too murky to rule anything out, copyright violations don't appear to be the cause of Blogetery's troubles.
'History of abuse' In BurstNet's e-mails to Blogetery, the operator was told his service had a "history of abuse." Benjamin Arcus, vice president of Scranton, Pa.,-based BurstNet, the Web host for Blogetery, told CNET that executives there terminated service at the direction of a law enforcement agency.
"I can not disclose which agency or why they [ordered the action]. I can say that this is not a copyright issue" --BurstNet executive"I can not disclose which agency or why they [ordered the action]," Arcus said. "I can say that this is not a copyright issue." He said he believed BurstNet did not provide Internet service for Ipbfree.com.
In addition to Arcus' statements, spokespeople for the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America also told CNET they didn't know anything about Blogetery. Besides, it is nearly unheard of that a copyright complaint from either of those two trade groups would mean almost instantaneous shut down of a site.
They would first have to confront the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, designed to protect Internet service providers from liability for infringing material that users post to their sites.
Gone forever As for Ipbfree.com, little has been made public about what occurred there. In some Twitter posts from people who apparently operated the service, they indicated that they complied with the DMCA. Site managers answered questions asked by former users via Twitter.
"iPBFree is gone forever and it's not possible to retrieve anything," said one of the service's administrators who went by the Twitter handle Connormccarthy. "It wasn't planned. We're exceptionally sorry."
Another person identifying himself as an administrator and using the handle Catfriedrice told a former user: "Can't tell you anything about it. Sorry, I'm bound to this secret by law."
One question still unanswered is where Ipbfree.com was based. Former managers appear to be British, but records show that Ipbfree was launched in the United States. Administrators were not immediately available for comment on Sunday.
What really has some observers scratching their heads is that it's unclear under what circumstance a law enforcement group could walk in and order an Internet host to boot a customer off the Web without any apparent warning or court order?
Was there due process? None of this makes sense, according to one law enforcement official with experience in cybercrime investigations who wasn't connected to the cases but wished to be anonymous because he is isn't authorized to speak on the matter.
He said that he didn't know of any agency that had the authority to terminate service for thousands of people without essentially jumping through all kinds of legal hoops. Not even federal officials in child pornography investigations can immediately shut down hosting services.
Search warrants are obtained and Internet protocol addresses of the people uploading and downloading the material are turned over, but the services typically stay in operation, the source said. He said he thinks there's likely more to the story.
He noted that in the United States, prosecutors and law enforcement are required to provide due process. He said, at least in theory, we have a system based on the assumption that someone is innocent until proven guilty.
They can't just snap their fingers, he said, and make a service provider go dark.
Note: We will be following this situation closely and will post more info as soon as we get it. If you have any knowledge about what's occurred, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
I guess they can.
file under “what Bill of Rights?”
I thought it was “Wordpress” blogs that got shut down?
Uhhh...this is scary.
Well Mr. Jim Robinson,
How long til the feds shut us down here?
Can’t have a free exchange of ideas now can we?
This is very scary.
One of the people interviewed did say that it was not a copyright issue, so you may be right.
There must be something in one of those multi-thousand page laws that our Congress doesn’t read that gave some law enforcement agency this power.
It almost sounds like the “D notice” in England where authorities have the power to prevent publication of items deemed to be of national security interests. And the media can’t discuss it.
But even in England I don’t think you could shut down thousands of individual blogs by closing a web service with a D notice.
What’s gonna happen if the black helicopters drop in on Free Republic and shut it down?
Even though I understood why, at the time, we needed a Patriot Act, I feared for what would happen if the Presidency fell into the wrong hands, as it now has. This development is chilling, but probably not the last case of it. I do hope JimRob has an offshore site in mind in case they shut FR down in the same way.
it almost has to be a patriot act matter. the fact is, with a gangster in the white house the patriot act becomes a license for abuse of power unlike anything we’ve ever had before.
There is Free Dominion, our conservative neighbors to the North.
It may come to that, although I confess I don’t like the navigation as much—something I might have to get used to, if the tyranny hits the fan.
Any speculation is just that, but I will put forth my guess. Perhaps Islamic terrorists were sending information via those blogs. I am all for fighting terrorism, but the method seems extreme. Worse, I worry that some faceless bureaucrat within the innumerable intelligence services someday deems our website subversive and shuts it down without warning. This is our wakeup call - we need some kind of backup plan to communincate before FR is shut down for good. I did not fear the expansion of national security under George Bush, but I do fear it under Chairman Obama.
Well, if anything does come down, you will find me posting at our neighbors to the North.
“with a gangster in the white house the patriot act becomes a license for abuse of power unlike anything weve ever had before.”
Those that supported the Patriot Act should remember Ben Franklin. “If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.”
This result was a logical result under friend or FOE...power corrupts!
I felt the same way. I could see the purpose of the Patriot Act and I wasn’t worried about it while Bush was in the WH, but the problem with such powers is that it is all contingent on the person who wields them having a respect for the rule of law...and Obama has none.