Sunday, January 17, 2010


The social advertising blog Osocio reports that Canada has shut down parody websites created by the anti-globalization and corporatization activists The Yes Men, which claim to announce the Canadian government's commitment to reducing greenhouse gasses. What I find interesting is to see the long disclaimer at and from the service provider who was obviously complying with the government's directive under duress:

Serverloft blocked the IP-range for this server because of the content of the client's website and would only unblock the IP-range if we suspended the website. The website was used in a spoof by The Yes Men.

Serverloft blocked the IP-range without a warrant and without calling us and thus affecting servers hosting 4500 of our customers' websites until we ourselves discovered the problem, and convinced Serverloft to unblock. Serverloft did send us an email explaining that they would not unblock the IP-range until the websites were taken offline. The email was sent 5 minutes after they cut of the access to the mail server, so we only received the email after the 4500 websites were back online.

Convincing Serverloft that their systems had blocked access on purpose was hard because Serverloft frontline support claimed that all their systems were working fine and they therefore assumed that the problem was a configuration problem on our server. They refused to help troubleshooting the issue.

Serverloft could simply have called us and asked us to deal with the situation. We would then have asked the Canadians for a warrant. If the Canadians had shown us a warrant we would have taken down the site immediately. As others have pointed out the Canadians could probably just have gone through CIRA and have the domain suspended, which would not have affected any of the other 4500 websites.

This is much more than a simple 404 message and even includes a timeline of the controversy with background information and an excerpt of the e-mail that the company received from their hosting service, which claims that a phishing incident was the cause for the suspension. It also emphasizes a rhetorical stance of accommodation and rationality in the conflict.

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