Monday, February 25, 2008

Internet Defeats Legal Censorship

We read:

"In a move that legal experts said could present a major test of First Amendment rights in the Internet era, a federal judge in San Francisco has ordered the disabling of a Web site devoted to disclosing confidential information.

The site,, invites people to post leaked materials with the goal of discouraging "unethical behavior" by corporations and governments. It has posted documents said to show the rules of engagement for U.S. troops in Iraq, a military manual for the operation of the prison at Guant˜namo Bay, Cuba, and other evidence of what it has called corporate waste and wrongdoing. The site claims to have posted 1.2 million leaked government and corporate documents....

White ordered Dynadot to disable the address and "lock" it to prevent the organization from transferring the name to another registrar. The feebleness of the action suggests the bank and the judge did not understand how the domain system works or how quickly Web communities will move to counter actions they see as hostile to free speech online.

The site itself could still be accessed at its Internet Protocol address - - the unique number that specifies a Web site's location on the Internet. Wikileaks also maintained "mirror sites," or copies usually produced to ensure against failures and this kind of legal action. Some sites were registered in Belgium, Germany and the Christmas Islands, through domain registrars other than Dynadot and so were not affected by the injunction. Fans of the site and its mission rushed to publicize those alternate addresses this week.....

On its site, Wikileaks compared White's orders with ones eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Pentagon Papers case in 1971.