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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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  • 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.
  • The full article (Score:2, Informative)

    by gwyrdd benyw (233417) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:17AM (#15460330) Journal
    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 company.

    By early yesterday afternoon, the Volpe team had the website pulled down.

    It was called youthforvolpe.ca and asked children to donate $5,400 and indicate whether the credit card being used is "mommy's or daddy's. . . ."

    It also included testimonials, and under the heading, "How can you help," it said: "Want to support Joe, but don't know if you can? Talk to your parents, you might have already done your part."

    Early yesterday, the website address was flying into the inboxes of politicians, political staffers, journalists and even the strategists from other leadership campaigns.

    Mr. Volpe's campaign had the site shut down without knowing, it seems, who put it up: "Hi Everyone," wrote Brenden Johnstone, who is with the Volpe campaign, in an e-mail to other leadership campaigns. "There has been concern about how the issue of the Volpe donations was reflecting on the leadership race.

    "My Office has had the website suspended through CIRA [Canadian Internet Registration Authority] and CDNS [Canadian Domain Name Services] and it will be down as soon as 6 p.m. I think the issue with the website has been dealt with. . . ."

    At one point, the Michael Ignatieff campaign's Quebec youth director, Marc-Andr&#233; Gendron, was suspected because the website was similar to other political sites he had created. Mr. Gendron denied any involvement, pointing out that one of the testimonials was from two children named Chris and Toby Aggarwal. As it turns out, Sachin Aggarwal is the Ignatieff campaign's director of operations.

    ". . . It strikes me as an effort to frame us," a senior Ignatieff strategist said.
    ---->8----
  • by Dryth (544014) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @01:24AM (#15460351)

    I've been outside of Canadian politics for a while now, so I can't comment on on Joe Volpe or how internet saavy he or his people are.. However, seems you've just discovered that the domain is owned by... Mike Hunt... Mike Hunt... say it out loud.

    I mean, there's always the chance that the person registering the domain had a very unfortunate name. On the other hand this lends credibility to another poster's claim that perhaps the domain was nixed thanks to inaccurate contact info.

  • by ndogg (158021) <`the.rhorn' `at' `gmail.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.
  • 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.
  • by From A Far Away Land (930780) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @02:31AM (#15460490) Homepage Journal
    "store isn't following the fire code"

    Except that isn't the case, if you read the next update. The rule cited by the registrar was one where they feared they'd be sued for defamation, and that can't happen where they'd lose because there was no defamation present, just some good ol'e political parody of which is common in Canada.

    It's as if the store had a minor code violation that could be fixed, and then a phony trumped up charge was used to close it instead.
  • by Multivitavim (957111) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @03:11AM (#15460575)
    > directly harmed the Canadian Economy

    'Directly'? Really? Oh, right, because the mighty US Department of Commerce takes actions like imposing improper tariffs on common trade goods because some foreign wanker bad-mouthed the US president. And they started on that path before the guy even made the comment!

    Actually, in the case of the softwood lumber issue, I heard a rumour that there were some different wankers, ones with vested interests in the softwood market in the US, who made political donations and lobbied hard for those anti-free-trade actions on the part of the US government. That kind of thing sounds a bit more direct to me.
  • by Multivitavim (957111) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @03:37AM (#15460631)

    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 page alone; what's recorded there could be valid.

  • 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).

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Guido von Guido (548827) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:04AM (#15461413)
    How did this get modded insightful? Yes, Mike Hunt can be a joke name. Thing is, not everybody gets the joke, and some people give this name to their children. I suspect the incidence of this name will go down as the joke becomes better known.

    I've known a number of people named Mike Hunt. Their reactions to the joke ranged from complete obliviousness to mild annoyance.

    However, I've never actually met anyone named Heywood Jablome.

  • by Multivitavim (957111) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @03:50PM (#15462967)

    The US pursues trade practices that are to its own advantage because they are to their own advantage, not because they feel insulted by some guy they've never heard of before.

    If you look back at the history of the softwood dispute, you will the see that the Liberals did indeed pursue a resolution through appropriate channels. Or was Emerson just dilly-dallying when he was a Liberal? Somehow I doubt that he was, or why would Harper have recruited him?

    If only 90% of people who voted for the Conservatives actually wanted them to win, that means that a party that was wanted by less than a third [elections.ca] of voting electors is now leading the country... That makes your 'left-field' look like a vast majority that is effectively disenfranchised right now... On the up side, if the Conservatives change tacks and become interested in meaningful electoral change (e.g., proportional representation instead of the tokenism [theglobeandmail.com] they are currently engaged on), this kind of poor electoral outcome should become less common in the future.

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