The United States Government shut down about 73,000 WordPress blogs on a single Web site in a move that some fear signals an increasing disregard for individual free speech rights. The action follows the high profile government seizure of seven online movie sites weeks ago. The U.S. move dwarfs current Chinese government activity that shut down only “dozens” of blogs in China.
Recently targeted by federal action, the free WordPress blogging site Blogetery abruptly came offline after hosting provider BurstNet complied with undisclosed demands from authorities. A message viewable upon visiting the Blogetery site gives this message from its owner: “After being BurstNet customer for 7 months our server was terminated without any notification or explanation.” A link on the site leads to a forum called Web Hosting Talk, where the site operator has posted correspondence with BurstNet, that suggests feederal involvement in the incident.
Those first to learn about the Blogetery shutdown seemed to think that the move was due to intellectual property concerns. The online discussion supposedly with the Blogetery owner suggests that users of his site prompted frequent cease and desist demands from copyright holders to which he responded with appropriate action against users of his site.
Original speculation seemed to be misguided upon the release of comments from BurstNet that disclosed that the action against Blogetery was not “typical” and required instant compliance with federal demands to close the entire Web site. Some reports seem to suggest that intellectual property rights actions typically target specific users of a service rather than the entire operation. Now, some fear that the suffering of the innocent together with the guilty as the free speech of many appears to have been infringed by government action. Such fear supposes, of course, that not all 73,000 blogs on Blogetery were lawbreakers. Some consider the magnitude of the federal action as an indication that the Blogetery site itself and its owner may have been involved in some type of wrongdoing.
BurstNet and authorities have been mum on specific details of the case, saying only that they have refunded the payments from the Web site owner owner. BurstNet has reportedly refused to allow the owner access to data from the site, crippling his capacity to bring the site back on a different Web site provider.
Although we do not know the underlying reason why the American government shut down Blogetery, the communist government in China indicates that a desire to throttle the popularity of social networking and micro bloggers in effort to stymie dissent within the country. Actions by that government closed selective blogs from the blogging site Sohu and shut down entire Chinese blogging sites such as Tencent, Sina, and Netease.
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“Burst, BurstNet, Nocster – BEWARE!” Blogetery. http://blogetery.com/ (accessed July 16, 2010).
“Burst, BurstNet, Nocster – BEWARE!” Webhosting Talk. http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=964013&page=1 (accessed July 16, 2010).
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