As you are aware I was using Blogetery for my site, but when it got taken down by Burst.net in an apparent misunderstanding between them and the FBI over a terrorists website that was being hosted on Blogetery. Result being I put my site elsewhere to the time being while I ponder what to do about it. I could leave it as-is, or I could host it in another country, or I could host it on my own server. I don’t think I’m all that controversial enough to have problems with anybody, but on the other hand, I really don’t want this happening again, if for no other reason than it’s a gigantic pain in the ass.
This takes us back to my earlier post about how things like this could affect cloud computing. Am I or anyone else really going to be safe hosting anything on any server in the US? I was one of the lucky ones who bad backed up the majority of my site. But, from what I can gather, a significant percentage of the claimed 70,000+ Blogetery users didn’t do this and lost everything they had up on the web.
This goes back to my earlier gripe about what happens if you have your business on a cloud server somewhere and the government shuts it down due to purveyors of terrorism or child porn having something on the same server that your company uses? Is all your data going to disappear into nothingness? I think someone needs to sort this out, there needs to be a system in place so this cannot happen anymore, yet keep the bad guys off the net.
It appears now that we may still have more questions than answers. First Blogetery said they were ordered to take the server offline. Then the FBI claims they didn’t order Blogetery to pull the plug on the server. Next Blogetery claimed they misunderstood what the FBI letter said. Finally they’re claiming they decided to shut it down due to a history of violations. Regardless, it’s left a lot of people without their blogs. I hope everyone learns a lesson from this tragedy and starts backing up their stuff on a daily basis from now on.
There may still be hope. It appears some pressure being put on Burst.net to rectify the situation and make a lot of innocent bloggers happy, and that they’re considering it. I don’t know who deemed them the GOD of the internet with unlimited powers to retain what is not their property but at least it’s a start. Per this update from Cnet we get the following.
Joe Marr, Burst.net’s chief technology officer, said Wednesday that the company is considering its options and there’s a chance executives there could hand over a copy of most of the information found on Blogetery’s server–it won’t be returning anything created by al-Qaeda. That means the service’s users could see their blogs again. What they won’t see is Burst.net hosting Blogetery in the future, said Marr. That relationship is severed.
Sounds like Joe should change his title to “King” or something. I really could care less about their relationship with Blogetery, the right thing to do is make sure everyone gets their blogs back. Why would the cheeses at Burst.net even have to think about what the obvious right thing to do is?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) appears to be getting involved. I know I emailed them about this when I found out that Burst.net wasn’t planning on giving people their blogs back. Perhaps they probably got a lot of email from other bloggers, too. I can’t say for certain. Hopefully they will get involved and get the blogs back for everybody.
Not so fast, says Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group for tech companies and Internet users. Opsahl notes that regardless of whether Yusupov was diligent enough in maintaining his service, it’s unfair to penalize thousands of Blogetery users. They’re innocent.
“It would be a shame and unfair to all the people using Blogetery for ordinary blogging services,” Opsahl said.
Opsahl wants to know what part, if any, the FBI played in the shut down of Blogetery. Initially, Burst.net informed Yusupov and members of the media that it cut off Blogetery’s service at the request of law enforcement. Marr says now that the employee who issued that statement erred and the FBI had nothing to do with it. What Opsahl worries about is the FBI’s request for information to Burst.net.
I’m really curious about all of this, too. Was there some other reason the FBI is interested in what is on the server? Is this all obfuscation? Did the FBI actually order them to pull the plug and now they’re hiding out about it? Again based upon this Cnet article my suspicion meter is going back up again.
The FBI, however, has an extensive history of misusing these requests, records show. The Justice Department Inspector General said in January that an audit of the FBI showed the agency had worked for years with ISPs to violate federal wiretapping laws. On numerous occasions the FBI asked ISPs for reports on U.S. citizens and journalists when no legitimate risk to human life existed. An FBI spokesman did not respond to an interview request.
Not responding makes it sound like they could be hiding out or concocting some new story for the general public to hide what’s really happening.
“The FBI’s use of exigent letters became so casual, routine and unsupervised that employees of…communication service providers told us that they, the company employees, sometimes generated the exigent letters for (FBI) personnel to sign and return,” the inspector general reported.
This makes me wonder yet more. Was this a blatant abuse of power? Was this legitimate? Was it a misunderstanding? I’m not questioning the violations that Burst.net claims Blogetery made, or them wanting to terminate the relationship as their business relationship doesn’t matter to me other than if they want to terminate, they should do the right thing and give the blogs back. I was happy believing the original explanation. The fact the story keeps changing makes me wonder who, if anybody, is lying?
There is still the issue of iPBFree and what happened there, too. Is this something the government did? Or, just a simple case of a company going out of business? Again, regardless, they didn’t have to just disappear off the face of the Earth. Someone should have given a heads up to all the bloggers and offered them the opportunity to get their data before the plug was pulled. Yet more reason I have suspicions about Blogetery.
To add some fuel to my suspicion fire, I went to EFF’s website this morning to see if there was anything on there about Blogetery or iPBFree. I came across an item about having to use an online ID, that you can read here. More scary stuff about the government wanting to remove anonymity from the internet and keep tabs on what everyone is doing and where they’re doing it. Something that could make it a very convenient way to find the bloggers you don’t like, if you get my point. I’m sure RIAA would love it, too as it would make it easy to track down people they feel are downloading illegal copies of music.
I know there are plenty of people on the internet who could probably easily avoid doing this, but we all need to remember that we’re not all computer hackers and the vast majority of us would be forced to comply because we don’t have the wherewithal to avoid having to use an ID when blogging.
Regarding Yusupov, I really don’t know about the guy. I liked Blogetery and I’ll assume perhaps he had noble intentions until I hear different. If you believe Burst.net, he wasn’t watching the hen-house like he should have and had too many problems. Perhaps true, perhaps not. I can say I was paying the whopping $5 per month for unlimited space and having the ability to have no ads on my site and when I griped about it, he did almost immediately do a refund, which surprised me. It wasn’t the $5 but the principle with me and he did the right thing, regardless of the amount involved.
One thing this reminds me of a soap opera. Stay tuned to Days of Our Blogetery. Will Yusupov be vindicated? Will EFF sue Burst.net? Will bloggers start mysteriously disappearing? Will the operator of the terrorist website get a visit from a cruise missile in his bedroom at 3 in the morning? Stay tuned.
The other thing it reminds me of is the “Outer Limits.”
“There is nothing wrong with your computer player. Do not attempt to adjust the monitor. We are controlling your computer. We already control the hard drive and the video. We now control the digital. We can change the focus from a soft blur to crystal clarity. We can make your blog disappear. Sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.
It will be interesting to see what develops. If I find out anything else I’ll put a post up. More Co2 Insanity of the digital kind.