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US Judge censors WikiLeaks.org by ordering DNS records removed

The BBC and many others report that the international whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.org has been taken down as of this morning. Judge Jeffery White ordered that the WikiLeaks.org domain be removed at the request of Julius Baer Bank & Trust. Not only does the judge order that the site be removed, he orders that the whois privacy protections be turned off and, of course, that the log files be handed over.

Court Orders can be used as an effective Denial of Service attack and can circumvent otherwise strong privacy protections.

Here is the text of the order (emphasis added):

ORDER GRANTING PERMANENT INJUNCTION

The Court, having considered the stipulation between Plaintiffs JULIUS BAER & CO. LTD and JULIUS BAER BANK AND TRUST CO. LTD. (collectively “Julius Baer” and/or “Plaintiff’s”) and Defendant DYNADOT LLC (“Dynadot”), the complaint, and other papers, evidence, and arguments presented by the parties, and finding that immediate harm will result to Plaintiffs in the absence of injunctive relief, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

1. Dynadot shall immediately lock the wikileaks.org domain name to prevent transfer of the domain name to a different domain registrar, and shall immediately disable the wikileaks.org domain name and account to prevent access to and any changes from being made to the domain name and account information, until further order of this Court.

2. Dynadot shall immediately disable the wikileaks.org domain name and account such that the optional privacy who-is service for the domain name and account remains turned off, until further order of this Court.

3. Dynadot shall preserve a true and correct copy of both current and any and all prior or previous administrative and account records and data for the wikileaks.org domain name and account.

4. Dynadot shall immediately clear and remove all DNS hosting records for the wikileaks.org domain name and prevent the domain name from resolving to the wikileaks.org website or any other website or server other than a blank park page, until further order of this Court.

5. Dynadot shall immediately produce both current and any all prior or previous administrative and account records and data for the wikileaks.org domain name and account, including, but not limited to, all data for the registrant; billing, technical and administrative contacts; all account and payment records and associated data; and IP addresses and associated data used by any person, other than Dynadot, who accessed the account for the domain name, to the extent such information is maintained by Dynadot.

6. Plaintiffs shall immediately upon entry of this order file a dismissal with prejudice in favor of Dynadot. Notwithstanding the foregoing, plaintiffs and Dynadot stipulate and agree that the Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce this order.

Stephen Soldz posted this response to the many WikiLeak mirrors:

There have, of course, been previous attempts by the U.S. Government and others to block publication of particular documents, most famously in 1971 when the Nixon administration attempted to stop publication by the New York Times of excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. But trying to close down an entire site in this way is truly unprecedented. Not even the Nixon administration, when they sought to block publication of the Pentagon Papers, considered closing down the New York Times in response.

If this injunction stands, it will set an incredible precedent for all of us who use the web to unveil misbehavior by the rich and powerful. Fortunately, Wikileaks is fighting this unconstitutional attack on press freedom, aided by six pro bono attorneys in San Francisco. While Wikileaks has so far not issued any particular call for support, all who value freedom should stand ready to offer whatever support they need.

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  • http://webandlife.blogspot.com Andy Wong

    While the legal fight against the judge’s order has just begun, however, it might have been easier to set up web register off-shore to get rid of similar judges.

    Anyway, I would love to see an campaign for regulation change to prevent similar court orders of destroying the freedom of speech.

  • http://zwiebelmarkt.bimbel.de Zwiebelmarkt

    Welcome to 1984 – Big brother is watching you.

  • http://www.ifgogo.com aw

    Actually The censorship in China is not that terrible, haha. It’s much better than some other places

  • Simon

    A nice example that services like this should just be protected by TOR (running as an anonymous services).

  • http://weblogs.macromedia.com/jd John Dowdell

    Seems like the Wikileaks.org motto is “Your confidentiality will always be assured, while you break the confidentiality of others.”

    Doesn’t seem like a sustainable position to me.

  • jimmy dean

    site can still be accessed via ip address
    http://88.80.13.160/wiki/Wikileaks

    or alternate domain name: Wikileaks.be and wikileaks.in