2010-12-03 BREAKING: Goodbye Internet Freedom as Wikileaks is Taken Down

The whistle blower website Wikileaks.org has been taken down by U.S. based host, Amazon.com, after it was pressured by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee. According to the Christian Science Monitor:

The website WikiLeaks.org is no longer functioning, after its US-based domain host on Thursday terminated service for the controversial site. The expulsion forced WikiLeaks to relocate its domain name with a Switzerland-based domain name host, and the website is now found at WikiLeaks.ch.

Perhaps fittingly, WikiLeaks' new domain name host is the Swiss Pirate Party, which the Associated Press calls "a political group formed two years ago to campaign for freedom of information and sensible technology policy." The New York Times reported that the party is a branch of the Swedish Pirate Party, according to the website whois.com.

Former domain name host EveryDNS.net, a subsidiary of New Hampshire-based web host Dynamic Network Hosting, said in a statement on its website that it booted WikiLeaks at 10 p.m. EST on Thursday.

"The interference at issues [sic] arises from the fact that wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites," the statement says.

Multiple distributed denial of service attacks [DDOS] are completely illegal, and completely disruptive to the world wide web and very costly because they operate by creating massive amounts of bogus Internet traffic in an effort to jam up one site. That traffic has to be handled and hundreds of Internet engineers must stay up all night trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. Just as hundreds of Internet engineers spent last weekend trying to figure out what was happening to these 82 domains. When our government fails to play by the rules [ and the rules of the Internet require openness about just how everyone is handling traffic ] there is no end to the disruption it can cause.

DDOS attacks are not trivial to pull off because they typically require the control thousands of computers on the Internet. I hope the organization behind this DDOS attack is found and prosecuted. But given the nature of the attack and it's target, I suspect that in this case our government is carrying out Internet crime rather than solving it. So don't wait for Eric Holder to announce arrest warrants of those who are behind these recent DDOS attacks on WikiLeak's U.S. host.

When the Obama Administration seized 82 domains over the weekend, the Daily Kos largely ignored the issue. I wrote a dairy about the website removals, but it got little attention. From the comments, it was clear that many here saw that as a simple question stopping counterfeiters by any means necessary and backed the government moves. They failed to see how this big take down of websites represents a serious threat our Internet freedom or the larger question of what will happen to the world wide web once individual governments start taking unilateral actions to dominate the Internet. Instead on Monday, they recommended an article about what the well known DHS contractor Level 3 said Comcast might do to Netflix, and failed to even mention the removal of 82 domains. I believe that the NYTimes website publication of that story just 6 hours after Eric Holder announced the seizure of domains of an unprecedented magnitude served to obscure the really important breaking news in the area network neutrality. How can we seriously talk about network neutrality if we allow the government to determine what information can even be distributed on the Internet?

Now they have pressured Amazon to taken down WikiLeaks. Will there be at outcry here now?

Also it should be noted somewhere that Assange is being taken down now, not to stop him from dropping dime on the Wars or America, which he has already done, or the State Dept. of America, which he has already done, it is being done just in time to stop him from dropping dime on the Bank of America.

Interesting.

UPDATE: An Open Letter to Amazon.com Customer Service from Daniel Ellsberg, rec'd 10:30pst

Dear friends:

I hope you will join me and others in boycotting Amazon--inconvenient as that may be--to provide some counter-pressure to efforts by Senator Lieberman and the Administration to demonize, hound, block and prosecute Wikileaks, and ultimately to control whistleblowing and dissent on the internet.

Note: After sending this letter to Amazon.com and to the websites below, I looked on Google News and found that antiwar.com had already launched a boycott effort, citing reasons that I share: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/antiwarcom-launches-boycott-of-a... Moreover, I hadn't yet read this terrific column by Glenn Greenwald, http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/01/lieberman/i... (I read Greenwald every day, but I'm in the grip of a bad cold at the moment.) If you need more background, check out antiwar.com and Google News on Wikileaks, Assange, Amazon, etc.

I don't take it for granted that all my friends will agree with me about Wikileaks or Amazon. For those who do, this looks like a useful action."

[Note to editors: I hope that any sites that now encourage their readers to make purchases through amazon.com will consider ending this arrangement as antiwar.com has done--publicizing the reason for it to your readers-- even though I know that it means a loss of much-needed income for your operations. Let's not leave it to Joe Lieberman to call on a boycott! It's not only Wikileaks that is now under threat, and not only from Congress or Republicans.

Yours,
Dan Ellsberg

UPDATE 2: Government Sanctioned Private Seizure of Domains?

In checking the various WikiLeaks outlets as listed in wikileaks.info I noticed that wikileaks.com is replaced by a graphic that says "Sorry! This site is not currently available." This image is hosted at http://images-pw.secureserver.net/images/unavailable.jpg which is a GoDaddy.com server. This raises the troubling possibility that GoDaddy is holding a domain that doesn't belong to it.

Cosmos Engineering is the computer company I started in 1984. CosmosEng.com is the domain I purchased in 1996. At that time there was only one registrar, Network Solution. Fortunately, that monopoly got broken up and the annual fee dropped from $35/year at NS in 1996 to $10/yr. at GoDaddy today. Before I had GoDaddy as my registrar, I used Gandi.net out of France for $12.00 euros/yr. Now I'll be moving it offshore again because GoDaddy doesn't own that domain, I do, and if they are going to start taking advantage of the trust I have put in choosing them as my registrar, by seizing domains on anybody's orders, I will take my business to a land were liberty is still valued!

UPDATE 3: Reporters Sans Frontières [Reporters without Borders] issues statement, it read in part:

This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency. We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China. We point out that in France and the United States, it is up to the courts, not politicians, to decide whether or not a website should be closed.