Wednesday, July 21, 2010

73,000 Blogs Gone

Andrea Shea King posted about the seizure of an internet server on her blog earlier this week.
It seemed that the free hosting site Blogtery has had their server seized by the authorities. There is a link at their site to a thread discussing, among other things, whether or not the authorities are acting within the law. The consensus on the thread seems to be that they are.

The e-mailed responses to queries of Blogtery's owner, which he/she has posted on the thread are as follows:

"Due to the history of abuse and on going abuse on this 'bn.***********' server.We have opted to terminate this server, effective immediately. This termination applies to: bn.affiliateplex.comAbuse DepartmentBurstNET Technologies, Inc "

"Hello, again.Thank you for providing your pin. It has been verified.Bn.xx*********** was terminated by request of law enforcement officials, due to material hosted on the server.We are limited as to the details we can provide to you, but note that this was a critical matter and the only available option to us was to immediately deactivate the server.The following section of our Service Agreement Contract ( addresses this type of issue:.......... "

"I'm sorry for the delay. I have been awaiting a response regarding this issue from one of my colleagues.Please note that this was not a typical case, in which suspension and notification would be the norm. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.The pre-payment for invoice #1289289 (bn.xxxxx***********. (07/11/2010 - 08/10/2010)) has been credited back to your account."
Further Burstnet appears to have commented on the thread saying this:
"We notified him when we terminated it, and we refunded him his money to his account, becasue he has other servers with us. If he wants the refund to his card, we can easily do that. However, it should be the least of his concern.Simply put: We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot.As far as his request to speak with the law enforcement officials, he sent it last night at 7PM, after Customer service was closed. We are looking into his request with the necessary persons.This is the last post we will make on this subject."

On the surface, this seems pretty cut and dried, the site was warned and had their service terminated according to the TOS and at the request of law enforcement. So, what's the problem?

The problem is that Blogtery provided free hosting to some 73,000 blogs. Now, I know law enforcement is tough and criminals are sneaky, but is it really necessary to shut down 73,000 blogs to curtail the criminal activities of many? Surely not all 73,000 bloggers were violating the TOS or piracy laws or whatever else would have caused the authorities to take such an extreme action. Yet, neither they, nor the owner of Blogtery have been able to get their data back. I hope they had backups.

The owner of professes to be ignorant of any wrongdoing and says that whenever they have received notice of violations, the violators have been removed within 24 hours. Most of the other posters seem to have assumed that the owner of Blogtery has not been cooperative with the owners of Burstnet or the authorities in policing the server.

Maybe that's true. Still, I found myself with more questions than answers.
Upon looking for more information, I found a report here on the matter which was referenced on the Dept. of Homeland Security's "Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report for 21 July 2010"'

According to the report, " “It was revealed that a link to terrorist material, including bomb-making instructions and an al-Qaeda ‘hit list', " were contained in the offending blog.

Furthermore, it appears, from the report, that it was Burstnet's decision to take down the entire site rather than just the offending blog.
"Upon review, BurstNET determined that the posted material, in addition to potentially inciting dangerous activities, specifically violated the BurstNET acceptable use policy. "This policy strictly prohibits the posting of ‘terrorist propaganda, racist material, or bomb/weapon instructions.’ Due to this violation and the fact that the site had a history of previous abuse, BurstNET elected to immediately disable the system."

I'm still wondering, why take down the entire site? It seems counterproductive to good business to make 72,999 customers upset for the actions of one. It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

"Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven." ~Psalm 85:11

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