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Canadian Domain Registry Pulls Plug on Free Speech 210

Posted by Zonk
from the surprised-we-haven't-seen-that-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The staff of a Canadian political candidate bragged today that he had managed to shut down a website critical of his involvement in a fundraising scandal, by having the country's registrar of domains pull the DNS records for the site. Criticism from bloggers and free speech advocates has been negative, and is coming from across the political spectrum."
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Canadian Domain Registry Pulls Plug on Free Speech

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  • Framed? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:04AM (#15460281) Homepage Journal

    Appears scum are easier to frame than honest, upstanding people. Thanks for playing, but hope you and your filth go down in flames, spinning or otherwise.
    • Re:Framed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Simon80 (874052) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:31AM (#15460379)
      Agreed, this is completely untrue, the Globe and Mail likes to act like things are newsworthy, when they are not. See what Michael Geist has to say [michaelgeist.ca] about this.
      • > Globe and Mail likes to act like things are newsworthy, when they are not

        Good point, he should be glad that all those sites come back up, so that even more children, and not merely those of one of his largest corporate supporters, can enable all of their kids to donate the maximum of $5,400 allowed under Canadian law...

        Just think how much he can raise with all the mirror sites going up now!

        In the mean time, it has come to my attention that the CRIA's requirements for having a .ca domain make them prett
        • Exactly! The .ca TLD is such a pain in the ass, not even worth going for. Even if there are more available "good" names in the .ca TLD, what good is it if the .ca and .com are two different entities ? Most people will mix them up anyways, and end up visiting the .com instead, wondering where their beloved beaver-taming website went. I don't own a single .ca domain, don't feel like putting up with CIRA, primarily because anything in this country is buried deep in bureaucracy (thus light-handed corruption
  • Fails to explain... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:06AM (#15460289)
    how he was able to accomplish this.

    However, the article does imply that noone is willing to admit to setting up the site.

    Maybe the site's operator didn't provide accurate information when registering it. If that is the grounds for deregistering it, then it's not quite the free speech issue it's made out to be.
    • by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:13AM (#15460311)
      from one of the blogs:

      UPDATE (supplemtary info): There's more information to the story. The deletion of the domain name was in full compliance of rules of the CIRA (just because it's a rule, doesn't make it right). Supposedly, if one registers a .ca domain name with anonymous details, the domain name can be removed under the CIRA's rules. However, one first needs to point it out (as Joe Volpe's campaign did).

      This doesn't necessarily make it right, however. . .


      Whatever. Everyone assumed that it was a huge abuse of power, when in reality it was just someone using a tactic that anyone can use. Complaining that someone isn't following the rules, and following an established procedure to remedy the situation.

      As usual, people get all up in arms, bloggers go nuts, emails and phone calls are made... and then we find out nothing really wrong was done.

      The big public relations screw up was bragging about it on a mailing list. But otherwise, he didn't do anything that ANY political campaign wouldn't have done in the same situation.
    • didn't provide accurate information when registering it. .... then it's not quite the free speech issue it's made out to be.

      Actually, it is a free speech issue, but not for the obvious reason. There are times when people critical of the government or corporations [wikipedia.org] often need anonymity. Especially if there is nothing illegal about the site, then I find its removal offensive.
      • But there's a proper way to get anonymity, and it doesn't involve providing false information to your registrar. I use an anonymizing service with a couple of my domains (it's cheap [nearlyfreespeech.net] too!) that provides valid information but doesn't reveal my identity. I'm sure something equivalent exists for .ca domains, though it's no lock that it's as cheap. These means of keeping your identity confidential fit within the registrars' frameworks and protect you cancellation by a malicious entity. If there's nothing illegal
    • Someone had to have been paying for the domain and ip address. I'm no expert on Canadian law regarding this sort of thing, but companies releasing information about customers has been a big issue in the US lately. Regardless of what the law says, I don't think that the organizations responsible for those should be forced to out the identity of the person responsivle. We should be allowed to say things and take actions in an anonymous fashion, legal things mind you, in order to protect ourselves from undese
    • It explains how he accomplished it in the first link. The CIRA pulls sites that are registered with anonymous info.

      UPDATE (supplemtary info): There's more information to the story. The deletion of the domain name was in full compliance of rules of the CIRA (just because it's a rule, doesn't make it right). Supposedly, if one registers a .ca domain name with anonymous details, the domain name can be removed under the CIRA's rules. However, one first needs to point it out (as Joe Volpe's campaign did).

      It's n

      • by Keebler71 (520908) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @02:00AM (#15460441) Journal
        No, it is a free speech issue, or more correctly a censorship issue. The politician used a rule to have the site shut down (the site had been registered anonymously). How many other sites with incomplete or anonymous registration info did he request to have shut down? None? Just the one critical of him? That sounds like censorship to me... just because he worked within the framework of the system doesn't make it (morally) wrong.
        • woops... i meant "right"
        • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @03:59AM (#15460678) Homepage
          The politician used a rule to have the site shut down. How many other sites with incomplete or anonymous registration info did he request to have shut down? None? Just the one critical of him? That sounds like censorship to me...

          There are three parts of censorship. Part one is having an agenda of some sort. Part two is becoming empowered by the state to carry out that agenda through censorship. Part three is to find items and have them removed from circulation on the grounds that they violate that agenda.

          It doesn't sound like part two or the second half of part three has been carried out here. He was not authorized by a government body to further this agenda. He did it of his own accord. What was taken down was not done so because it violated the agenda, but simply because it violated something else.

          Again, the actions are morally reprehensible on the part of this politician, but does not qualify as censorship by the government of Canada.
          • ...does not qualify as censorship by the government of Canada.

            Especially since Volpe is not a member of the governing party. The Liberals are currently in opposition. Volpe is a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal party--or perhaps was, after the donations-from-kids scandal [canoe.ca].

            However, this sort of qualifies as abuse of power to censor legitimate political satire--but not quite, because the chicken-shit Tory smear campaign artist who put the site up didn't have the guts to say who he was. Ther

            • Oops, please disregard. Just read down some more.

            • There is no reason any ordinary citizen would feel the need to hide his identity when publishing legitimate satire.

              Bullshit.
              • Bullshit.

                Thank you for that detailed explanation of your dissenting viewpoint.

                However, maybe I should clarify my statement: There is no reason why any ordinary Canadian citizen would feel the need to hide his identity when publishing legitimate satire about a Canadian politician.

                The whole point is moot, though, since it was not anonymity that brought the site down, but potential defamation. That is bullshit, because satire is protected speech. If it stops being protected, anyone who lampooned Pi

          • He's a part of the government and he is in power. That satisfies the second rquirement of yours. His "agenda" in this case is to keep him on the good side of the populace, so he can continue to stay in power. His actions follow that agenda. That satisfies the third requirement of yours.
          • Part two is becoming empowered by the state to carry out that agenda through censorship.

            Who says that only the government can censor? Schools, the media, televsion networks... they all censor. This highlights the issue that people have trouble understanding the differnce between censorship and loss of free speech rights. Only governement can do the later, but anyone can do the former.

      • It's not a free speech issue. Of course, Slashdot will blare it as such in a headline declaring that they "pulled the plug on free speech," but that just illustrates Slashdot's rampantly inaccurate reporting.

        I strongly disagree. INABILITY to register anonymously is even more a free speech issue then -any- one site being shut down, as is selective enforcement of a widely-ignored rule against an unpopular site because a politician found a technicality.

        Part of the right to free speech is the right -not-

    • If someone set up a site that had YOU portrayed for pushing violent games, or whatever, to children. Wouldn't YOU want the site shut down? Is it really a free speech issue when people are confused WHO put up the page in the first place, and wether it's genuine or not?

      If all our politicians are crooks, what is the use of democracy? Give people a break and support your candidate, or you will be part of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@gPASCALmail.com minus language> on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:07AM (#15460294)
    "The staff of a Canadian political candidate bragged today that he had managed to shut down a website critical of his involvement in a fundraising scandal.."

    Shouldn't that read, "The former staff..."
    • Shouldn't that read, "The former staff..."

      Hey now, no stealing tomorrow's headlines...

    • Shouldn't that read "The staff of a former Canadian political candidate"?

      If citizens of a democracy forgive incidents like this, they will get more of them.
  • site mirrored (Score:5, Informative)

    by kratei (924454) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:11AM (#15460303)
    Michael Geist's page (linked in the summary) contains this link to a mirror of the site that caused the furor: http://www.youthforvolpe.no-libs.com/ [no-libs.com]p
  • by davidwr (791652) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:15AM (#15460323) Homepage Journal
    Click here [stephentaylor.ca] for the whole scoop and some mirrors:


    UPDATE: I just got an email from the kids at youthforvolpe.ca. They received an email from their .ca registrar after they emailed them demanding which part of the Registrant Agreement that they were in violation of. It turns out that it had nothing to do with anonymous registration:

            From : CADNS.CA
            Sent : June 1, 2006 8:41:26 PM
            To : "Youthfor Volpe"
            CC : archive@cadns.ca
            Subject : RE: Domain registration for youthforvolpe.ca

            Article 3.1
            Paragraph (h) (i) and (ii)
            (h) not engage in any direct or indirect activity which in CIRA's opinion is designed to bring, or may bring, the Registry into disrepute, is designed to interfere, or may interfere, with CIRA's operations or designed to expose, or may expose, CIRA to prosecution or to legal action by the Registrant or a third party including, but not limited to, any of the following kinds of activities:
            (i) directly or indirectly, defaming or contributing to the defamation of any other Person,
            (ii) unlawfully discriminating or contributing to the unlawful discrimination of any other Person; or
            (iii) committing any other actionable wrong against any other Person including, without limitation, any other infringement of the Person's rights;

    Yep, the reason given was because the registrar believed that the website somehow defamed Joe Volpe and the registrar believed that it might expose CIRA to a lawsuit.

    This had nothing to do with a technicality of anonymous registration.


    If you are a crooked politician, your critics are like hydra - cut one down and 1,000 spring up in their place.
    • I'm not a lawyer, but I have taken several business-law classes... forgive me if I'm wrong, but in order to be considered "defamation", doesn't the defaming information have to be untrue? Ah, wikipedia, you are my true love: "the tort or delict of publishing (to a third party) a false statement that negatively affects someone's reputation." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel [wikipedia.org]Well, it seems like they had credible evidence, i.e. it wasn't based on false statements -- I don't see how the website was then in v
    • That's what you get for registering with a crappy registrar. I registered with godaddy, they nearly took my domain away when someone filed a compaint against me. Yeah, ONE person filed a complaint.
    • First of all, pulling a site because of phoney registration info is hardly "pulling the plug on free speech". Thanks Zonk for yet another in your series of sensational and completely misleading headlines. Lots of sites in the USA have been pulled because of fake registration records. Do you want to go on record as saying that the USA hasn't had any free speech for a long time because of this?

      Second, the entire purpose of the stephentaylor.ca site is to fling feces at Liberals in a baboon-like fashion and
  • A CIRA news release on the subject [www.cira.ca] contains some non-rumour info. Basically: it was the register, not CIRA; the domain was cancelled because it wasn't properly registered.
    • That's not what this comment [slashdot.org] upthread says... the registrar (CADNS.CA ) pulled the registration as it was deemed potentially libelous and could expose them to liability... so if that's what they told CIRA they lied...
  • The full article (Score:2, Informative)

    by gwyrdd benyw (233417)
    Articles tend to disappear off of the Globe and Mail site after a week or two:

    ----8<----
    Campaign gets tangled in website spoof
    JANE TABER
    It was all the buzz in official Ottawa yesterday -- a hilarious political whodunit in this age of websites, platforms and templates.

    Overnight, someone built a website spoofing Liberal leadership candidate Joe Volpe and his acceptance of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from children, including the 11-year-old twins of a former vice-president of a generic drug c
    • >At one point, the Michael Ignatieff campaign's Quebec youth director, Marc-André Gendron, was suspected
      He's got to be a hacker with a name like Marc-Andr&#233.
  • what a *crock* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gorshkov (932507) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (vokhsroGlarimdA)> on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:25AM (#15460356)
    This is not, in any way, shape or form, a free speech issue.

    CIRA's rules clearly state - and have for as long as *I* can remember - that annon registrations are not acceptable. THat was, and IS, grounds to pull the DNS records.

    If there is *any* story here, it should be how the hell did the site get registered in the first place, given that it didn't meet the most basic requirements.

    As for Volpe? He has my congradulations ...... this is the first rule he's since since he launched his leadership campaign that he had tried to have enforced. Hopefully, it's the start of a trend.
    • Re:what a *crock* (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @07:20AM (#15460971)
      Please read the updates to this blog post: http://www.stephentaylor.ca/archives/000603.html [stephentaylor.ca]

      If he's correct, the site was taken down because of content not registration details. It was CADNS and not CIRA though.

      • Considering that the CRIA release (somebody linked it above) says that it was a registration issue, I'd say that the fellow is most likely full of shit.

        "My pawn shop wasn't shut down for trafficking in stolen goods, man. It's the man, man! He's trying to keep me down, 'cause of my independent mind, man."

        Or, alternately, for those who actually respect crazy conspiracy theorists:

        "They don't care about our continued support of Israel and our foreign policy toward their native countries. They're clearly
  • by ndogg (158021) <the.rhornNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:27AM (#15460361) Homepage Journal
    Some updates have come in, and apparently there has been no censorship of any kind whatsoever. The registrants provided false contact information [www.cira.ca], and Canadian registrars require valid contact information.
    • Did you read the page you linked to?

      It doesn't say that the registration was improper in any way, it says that the registrar used an automated system to suspend the registration and that the registrar claimed that the registration was improper. Keep in mind that the registrar elsewhere offered a different reason for suspending the site.

      Looking at the whois page, it does look fake to me, but that's not a conclusion that CIRA has stated in their media release, and it's not provable in the basis of the whois

  • by talkingpaperclip (952112) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:34AM (#15460391) Homepage
    I was going to write an "In Soviet Russia" joke, but all my ideas already worked in their original order.
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:42AM (#15460412) Homepage Journal
    ...at least the cream cheese story had some substance.
  • by SEWilco (27983) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:58AM (#15460437) Journal
    This commentary seems critical of that politician.
    Keep an eye on Slashdot's DNS entries...
  • A Bit of Background (Score:5, Informative)

    by OpticalPaul (936448) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @03:40AM (#15460639)
    It might help to understand that Mr. Volpe, a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party, accepted donations in the maximum amount allowable by law from 11-year-old kids. Details are available from Elections Canada [elections.ca]. Current law in Canada does not permit election contributions to be given on behalf of someone else, so we can safely conclude that this was the kids' own money and not a company or parental donation in the kids' names.

    Volpe's acceptance of these contributions was widely mocked [macleans.ca] and derided. The website cited in this thread was launched, and got a fair bit of coverage online.

    Mr. Volpe subsequently decided to return the donations given by these kids. At about the same time, the website above had its DNS record SUSPD for one of many reasons (the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, CIRA cited a different reason in a press release [www.cira.ca] (failure to provide valid Canadian contact information, as required by CIRA rules for a ".ca" domain) than that apparently given to the domain registrant (disrepute).

    The interesting questions I find are (1) how influential were Volpe's minions in getting this site quashed, given that he was a member of the former Liberal government and CIRA operates under the authority of the Canadian Governmental department Industry Canada, and (2) what due process rights does any (".ca") domain owner have, given the speed with which this process executed (especially in light of all the legal expertise which is present on CIRA's board of directors, apparently not even bothering to ask for any court order or proper investigation against this site).

    • What's interesting is there are now plenty of other sites that something like this could park at: Slashdot (not so easy since articles keep flowing off the main page, but create the user "VolpeSucks" and then keep a journal); Wikipedia or any of a number of other wikis (could create pages for Volpe and his campaign and contributions including ones that were returned).

      Side note, why does returning a contribution absolve the candidate of guilt? (One can't just take the candy bar back to the store one stole

  • On what planet... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kevin lyda (4803) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @06:27AM (#15460904) Homepage
    Are Captain's Quarters, Pajama's Media and Little Green Footballs "across the political spectrum?" All three are so far to the right they make most American Republicans look like Trotskyites.
  • google's cache :) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zimsters (978940) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @06:35AM (#15460911) Homepage
    Google already cached it:
    http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:MW-vckW5UbEJ:ww w.youthforvolpe.ca/+&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=1&clie nt=firefox-a [66.102.9.104]

    No images, but you get the text and layout at least!
  • It's unfortunate. This is just the sort of bullshit that got the Liberals kicked out of office. A lot of pragmatic people admire the consecutive budget surpluses (It's our debt, after all, we're the ones who spent it), but the whole corruption thing is got a bit too grating.
  • All it takes is a google bomb to fix it by linking to the IP address. It'll get crawled and indexed on the IP, as long as the site isn't requiring host headers. :) What is the IP? Link to it in this thread and on your web sites with some phrase, like "scandalous canuck bastard" and the site will be the top hit in Google and Yahoo in a matter of days. :)
    • The vast majority of sites, I'm afraid, require a host header - that's how shared hosting works. Maybe this'll change when ipv6 rolls around, but for now, that trick only works if you add it to /etc/hosts.
      • The vast majority of sites, I'm afraid, require a host header - that's how shared hosting works.

        That's only one way that shared hosting works. You can also have multiple IP addresses for a single machine, and have the webserver for each virtual host bind to the IP for that virtual host.

        That's how it was done before HTTP/1.1, and some providers continue to do it that way. My hosting is from pair.com [pair.com], and is the cheapest service they offer (I think). I can access my web page by IP address, and I'm su

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