shutdown by California court; how a webhost can hijack your url

Update: The injunction has been dissolved after intervention by the EFF and ACLU.

The U.S. District Court for Northern California has sanctioned a broad agreement allowing the takedown of the Wikileaks is a site dedicated to providing an open forum for whistleblowers to expose corporate and government misdeeds. It has been a source for documents regarding prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, is claimed to have altered politics and elections in Kenya due to claims of corruption about President Moi, and recently allowed the disputed posting of documents regarding claims of money laundering and tax evasion by a Cayman Islands bank.

According to

"The Julius Baer Bank, a Swiss bank with a division in the Cayman Islands, took issue with documents that were published on Wikileaks by an unidentified whistleblower, whom the bank claims is the former vice president of its Cayman Islands operation, Rudolf Elmer. The documents purport to provide evidence that the Cayman Islands bank helps customers hide assets and wash funds.

After failing to convince Wikileaks to take down the documents, the bank went after its U.S. hosting service, which responded by agreeing not only to remove the Wikileaks account from Dyndadot's server but also to help prevent Wikileaks from moving its site to a different host."

Believe it or not, the fact that attorneys chose to pursue a bold forum for free speech like is not the worst part of the story. The worst part of the story is that Judge White, a Bush appointee to the Northern District of California, sanctioned an ex parte agreement(meaning Wikilinks had no say) between The Julius Baer Bank and Dynadot, Wikilinks' webhost, whereby not only does Dynadot have to take Wikilinks down, but the webhost also agrees to "lock the domain name to prevent transfer of the domain name to a different domain registrar."

Some webhosts already hold domain names hostage, making it difficult in some circumstances, like the death of a family member, to get the domain names transferred to a new owner or another webhost. This kind of case suggests that even if you build up good will in a url and have much of your reputation and website traffic dependent on that url, third parties, namely your webhost and someone whose unhappy at what you have on your site, can agree to shut you down and freeze your url at their will.

The concept of allowing the shutting down of an entire wiki or other social media website, and then allowing freezing and confiscation of its url, due to one possibly offending post, is absurd. It is akin to stopping production of the network news entirely for one possibly questionable two minute segment. It is like confiscating an entire issue of a newspaper or magazine based on one disputed story, and then shutting down the presses. You get the idea, its justice at its worst. It's a knee jerk reaction that weighs against free speech and doesn't allow proper representation for the party most affected, Oh wait, there's someone else likely more affected, the public who used the resource.

So for the time being is wrongfully disabled. However, it just so happens there is a direct IP and site based in Christmas Island mirroring the site.

You can also get the story direct from wikileaks.

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