THE unbelievable story about the termination of wordpress site blogetery.com right in the middle of the much vaunted U8UNTU eLXER migration has taken a bizarre new twist.
While this latest news story may squash any theory about the Feds impounding two years of U8UNTU material because of a GPL violation, or worse, a general crackdown on free software, it raises all sorts of questions regarding freedom of the press, in particular the law as it applies to online publishing and blogging.
One would have at least expected a court order before such a draconian move as the shutting down of 73 000 blogs, literally under martial law imposed by the USA Patriot Act, and which have now all apparently been deleted. Attempts to explain away the actions of Burst.Net, as a “voluntary” over-reaction fail to take into account the threat to impound servers and seize assets.
Neither burst.net nor blogetery.com are to blame in this affair. One must place the blame on the Federal Government which has acted in a threatening and undemocratic manner.
Even if the cause was an online publication called Inspire which apparently published a hit list and an article “How to make a bomb in your mother’s kitchen”, there are laws guaranteeing freedom of the press in the US constitution. Bring the alleged perpetrators of hate speech and incitement to war to book in a court of law. Get this out in the open, otherwise we all suffer from a culture of secrecy which is anathema in a democratic country.
Here is how the event unfolded, after TorrentFreak reported the U.S. government may be involved as part of stepped-up antipiracy operations and conversation between Blogetery management and the host provider via an online forum appeared to validate speculation that it was all about copyright infringement, it turns out both copyright and free software have nothing to do with it. According to CNET, “the site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of Burst.net, Blogetery’s Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery’s servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for Burst.net, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.”
Surely the culprit could have been dealt with in a sane way that avoided alienating so many people and causing loss of confidence in blogs such as this one? We all lose out when Federal agents can no longer distinguish between an al Qaeda recruitment journal and a Free and Open Source Linux blog!!!! I guess as servers become smaller and data gets compressed, we could all end up losing a lot more than the truth.