Microsoft request takedown of Cryptome.org… then change their minds out of the goodness of their black hearts…

26/02/2010

Well, Cryptome.org, one of my favourite repositories of “documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance”, has had an eventful day. They put online a copy of Microsoft’s “Global Criminal Compliance Handbook – US Domestic Version”, an interesting little booklet that describes exactly what info they collect about their customers for law enforcement; this annoyed Microsoft enough for them to get onto Network Solutions, Cryptome.org’s ISP, and have the site knocked off the web!

Somewhat predictably, this quickly became big news on the interwebs. But it doesn’t look like Microsoft predicted that outcome! Someone there must have realised, somewhat belatedly, that it doesn’t look too good to be a nasty bully silencing the voice of freedom. So a Microsoft lawyer got back to Network Solutions and asked for Cryptome.org to be reinstated! Here’s the email Microsoft sent to Network Solutions:

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Subject: Re: Ticket Number 1-452132847
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 22:46:56 -0500
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From: “Cox, Evan”
To: “DMCA”
Cc: “internet4[at]microsoft-antipiracy.com”

Dear Ms. Larsen:

I am outside counsel to Microsoft Corporation. I am writing to confirm my telephone message left with your nighttime operator at 7:45 PST this evening to withdraw Microsoft’s takedown request with respect to the file available at http://cryptome.org/isp-spy/microsoft-spy.zip which is the subject of the correspondence below.

While Microsoft has a good faith belief that the distribution of the file that was made available at that address infringes Microsoft’s copyrights, it was not Microsoft’s intention that the takedown request result in the disablement of web acess to the entire cryptome.org website on which the file was made available.

Accordingly, on behalf of Microsoft, I am hereby withdrawing the takedown request and asking that Network Solutions restore internet access to http: cryptome.org as soon as possible.

I can be reached at 415-640-5145 if you wish to discuss this request.

Sincerely,

Evan Cox
Counsel to Microsoft Corporation

So Cryptome.org is back up, even though the Microsoft compliance handbook is still available from there! All that ill-judged takedown request succeeded in doing is getting a shit-load more publicity for the handbook. Publicity that I’m doing my little bit for by posting this. I urge all interested parties to go to the site now and get yourselves a copy of it. There are also copies of compliance handbooks for many other organizations such as Yahoo, Facebook, Myspace, Comcast… and many more. Why not get yourself the full set?

I find it strange that a company as adept at public image as Microsoft can shoot itself in the foot in public so foolishly. Dicks.

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US Federal Judge bans free speech

27/02/2008

According to Wikipedia, Wikileaks is a website which allows whistleblowers to release government and corporate documents, anonymously and without possible retribution. But a US federal district court judge has tried to close it down.

Wikileaks revealed details of criminal activity at the Cayman Island branch of the Julius Baer bank. Officials of the bank went crying to a California district court, and Judge Jeffrey White ordered Dynadot, registrar of the domain name wikileaks.org, to take that site name offline – permanently.

The New York Times says that the judge’s actions are unconstitutional: taking away the domain name “was akin to shutting down a newspaper because of objections to one article. The First Amendment requires the government to act only in the most dire circumstances when it regulates free expression.”

Judge White has acted like he’s an employee of Julius Baer… but what’s really funny is that the tizzy-fit in the US courts has been pretty much a waste of time. So the wikileak.org domain name has gone – but there’s still wikileaks.be, mirrored documents at cryptome.org, and Wikileaks is also available at the IP address http://88.80.13.160. To shut down these access methods, Julius Baer would have to pursue injunctions in all the jurisdictions where they’re registered or where the servers reside – and these are deliberately scattered around to make such action very difficult!

But, even though Julius Baer and their pet judge have been ineffectual, it’s still damn out of order for them to try and silence free speech on the net. Wikileaks serves an important function – its original purpose was, in part, to allow Chinese dissidents to speak out without having to watch their backs – and the American courts have revealed that they don’t give a toss about freedom of expression even though that freedom is meant to be constitutionally enshrined there.

In most countries, laws relating to free speech and a free press still don’t apply online, even though the internet has been in existence for years. So Judge White can try to hide behind the argument that a website is not a newspaper. But we all know that’s a bunch of bullshit. There’s an expression in England: “The law is an ass.” And it applies just as well to the judge.


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