73,000 Blogs Shut Down and Nobody Will Say Why

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A WordPress host called Blogetery.com has been closed down by the Department of Homeland Security, taking down 73,000 blogs with it.  The host is only saying that “it’s serious,” but little else.  The DHS hasn’t said anything either and the speculation around the ‘Net is heavy.

The biggest problem is that it seems awful fishy that so many sites (the entire Blogetery.com network, hosted by a company called BursNet).  BursNet isn’t saying why or even who is behind it, though they did say it was a “law enforcement agency.”  The official notice, sent via email, read:

“This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials.  We had to immediately remove the server.”

Because the DHS and other government agencies are stepping up anti-piracy operations and the shutdown was due to copyright violations (on some sites, not necessarily all of the Blogetery sites), according to TorrentFreak who broke the story, the Web at large is viewing the shutdown as suspect.  The site wasn’t mentioned in an official Homeland Security briefing on the issue of piracy, but the mention of “thousands of websites have been closed down” is widely seen as referring to Blogetery’s blogs.  However, the involvement of Homeland Security and the lack of warning for the shutdown seems to say that this isn’t just another anti-piracy move.

Because non-piracy enforcement could conceivably fall under statues such as the USA PATRIOT Act, it could be that nobody involved is talking because they were served with hush warrants, prohibiting them from giving details.  Normally, piracy-related issues are handled by civil courts and take months to happen, not hours.  So if piracy were the case, it wouldn’t be a governmental issue, it would be a court issue.

Further, because an official statement from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said Sunday that the closing of Blogetery was not due to their involvement or request, it’s likely that this is a government-only action.  Which brings up more questions.

On a discussion board, BursNet made a final statement on the subject, saying:

“Simply put: We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot…”

Another web forum host, IPBFree, was also closed down and at the same time.  This raises another interesting idea, given the free-form openness of IPBFree: could the issue be national security-related?

With the FBI rumored to be hunting for the founder of Wikileaks over a supposed 250,000 sensitive document leak (Wikileaks denies they have received anything like that) and with the types of political discussions that took place on IPBFree and the fact that both hosts (IPBFree and Blogetery) were free-to-use sites with wordwide access, it’s possible more was going on than just “file sharing” as the buzz seems to think.

Eventually, someone will come out with the full story.  Until then, it’s all speculation.  The suddenness of the shut downs, the hush-hush secrecy surrounding it, and the lack of information has certainly bred a lot of questions with few answers.


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