Yesterday censorship on the internet just got a whole lot worse. On January 25, 2010 the website guestworkerfraud.com run by John Doe #3 has been wiped off the internet by request of the H-1B bodyshop APEX and by order of Judge James P. Hurley of The Superior Court of New Jersey. The website lasted slightly more than a month since ITgrunt.com was removed on December 23, 2009.
Network Solutions disabled the domain and put a "legal lock" on the account. Until further notice NS will not let Doe #3 have the domain name back until they decide to release it. Godaddy took similar actions to censor "Tunnel Rat" at ITgrunt.com.
I contacted John Doe #3 to ask if he had received a notice before his site was disabled: he replied that there was no notice at all — not even an email or a phone call. Doe #3 called Network Solutions and was told by a NS representative that his complaint will be sent it to their legal department, which is supposed to get back in touch with Doe #3 within 24 hours.
Best case scenario at this point would be that NS would agree to give back the domain name to Doe #3, which is property he paid for. You can still view the contents of the website by using Google cache, but expect pages to disappear rapidly.
Hopefully Doe #3 has better luck than Tunnel Rat because so far Godaddy has refused to give back the ITgrunt domain name.
What all of this means in a practical sense is that Doe #3 and Tunnel Rat cannot move their websites to a different web host because their domain name has been been hijacked. What this would be comparable to is if Microsoft.com had to change their name merely because a foolish judge in New Jersey ordered their domain to be removed from the internet. Of course that would never happen to Microsoft because they have lawyers, but small web sites containing content that someone find offensive for any reason is fair game for censorship.
Everyone that is concerned about freedom of speech on the internet should pay close attention to what is unfolding here because this unwarranted censorship is setting a very dangerous precedent. To get a full background on this story read my previous commentaries:
ITgrunt isn't going down without a fight. He set up a new domain name. Check out TechInsurgent: Life of an I.T. Grunt, Notes From The Trenches of Software Development. He has an explanation about what he had to do to get back online and it's deeply disturbing considering that the United States is supposed to have a Constitution that protects free speech.
Greetings from Canada
I am now registered in Japan and hosted by wonderful Cirrus Tech, based in Toronto.
This will be my command post while I fight that pack of jackals that got me shut down in America. I will be posting links to Apex case and you can get frequent updates.
In short, the Apex case has blown up all over the internet. Few Americans like the idea of an Indian national getting a corrupt judge and a mob lawyer to shut down web sites and domains over some fabricated libel case that revolves around an illegal contract.