On July 9th, Blogetery – a blog platform that served more than 70,000 blogs – was quietly shut down without warning by the web host. At first, there were no indications as to the reasoning behind this pulling of the plug. Rumors flew around the Internet, including ones claiming that the shutdown linked directly to copyright violations. It was revealed this afternoon, though, that the site was shut down after FBI agents informed Blogetery’s web host (Burst) that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on the servers.
It is interesting to note that a forum platform – Ipbfree – was shut down within days of the lights going dark on Blogetery. Users of both sites have been complaining quite loudly about their missing services. After all, they were given zero warning that this would be happening. This begs the question as to under what circumstances should hosting companies not be required to at least give a few hours’ warning time before shutting off a service.
I’d have to say that in this instance, Burst did absolutely the right thing. Please keep in mind that the FBI did NOT order the servers to be shut down. Burst acted (rightfully so) of its own volition when they flipped the switch after the FBI contacted the host with a request for voluntary emergency disclosure of information. The terrorist material (which included bomb-making instructions and a hit list) posted a serious and immediate threat to American lives. The FBI asked for specific information about the people who posted the material in question to be divulged immediately.
This isn’t a case of trying to shut bloggers up, y’all. This has nothing to do with Freedom of Speech rights being violated. This appears (the way it’s being reported at this point in time) to be a case of threat of harm to American citizens and land. I have to agree that in a situation like this one, the hosting company did the best possible thing in shutting the entire service down until such time as it can again be deemed to be safe.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe that Burst did the right thing, or do are you on the side of the people who are already blogging about their Freedoms?