GoDaddy Shuts Down RateMyCop; Gives Conflicting Reasons Why

from the perhaps-because-there's-no-good-reason dept

On Monday, Tim wrote about the pointless controversy around the site RateMyCop.com, which would allow people to rate police officers they had dealings with. Considering how many similar sites there are for teachers, doctors, restaurants, etc. — combined with the dangers that come with police abusing the power they are given — a site to rate police officers seems quite reasonable. But, of course, many police officers didn’t see it that way. However, what no one expected is that the site’s registrar and host would step into the fight and take the site completely offline with no warning to its owner. Yesterday, GoDaddy pulled the entire site offline, and replaced it with a page telling the owner to call GoDaddy (even though they had his phone number). People at GoDaddy gave conflicting reports as to why the site was taken offline, first claiming it was taken offline for “suspicious activity” and later that he had surpassed a 3 terabyte bandwidth limit, which the owner of the site disputes, saying there weren’t nearly enough page views for that to happen. Either way, he’s now ditched GoDaddy and found a host that won’t pull the site offline with no warning and no recourse.

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Companies: godaddy, ratemycop

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Comments on “GoDaddy Shuts Down RateMyCop; Gives Conflicting Reasons Why”

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45 Comments
Rich Kulawiec says:

The GoDaddy spam support service

GoDaddy has a long history (some of which has been noted by other commentors, I see) of summarily shutting down non-abusive domains with no notice of any kind AND of refusing to shut down domains belonging to spammers, phishers, and worse no matter how many complaints they get or how well-documented those complaints are. In the rare cases where they’ve taken action, it’s been far too little, far too late — and even then, they’ve shown themselves quite willing to sell new domains to the same people they’ve just shut down.

It’s thus hardly surprising to note that GoDaddy is one of the registrars-of-choice for the scum of the Internet. GoDaddy personnel (or their shills) will occasionally lament this situation and make feeble, transparent excuses for it — all the while refusing to acknowledge that they themselves are entirely responsible for it.

Avoid at all costs.

WisconsinGod says:

It is not the same

“Considering how many similar sites there are for teachers, doctors, restaurants, etc. — combined with the dangers that come with police abusing the power they are given — a site to rate police officers seems quite reasonable.”

This is blatently misconstrued and has many flaws.

1) You choose your teacher, you choose your doctor, you choose your restaraunts…. you do not CHOOSE your cop. These sites are to help consumers make informed decisions, which is against the principle of public service officers.

2) Officers are public employees, they are effectively employed by the people, so if you have a problem with your arresting / ticketing officer, bring the complaint to the head of the department, the city council, the county board, etc. Indirectly the officer is your employee, so you should utilize the proper channels.

3) Sample conversation: “Good day officer… wait, I just checked ratemycop.com and it says your partner lets more people off with a warning, can I talk to him?”
No…The officer’s authority comes directly from the laws of their jurisdiction…. rating officers in an anonymous forum takes credibility away from the entire profession and the laws they are sworn to uphold.

4) Yes, officers may overstep their bounds at times, but so does every other citizen in this country. Officers are not above the law, and they should not be treated differently as any other citizen. So rateyourcop.com is as effective as rateyourparents.com…

Matt says:

Re: It is not the same - sure is

Yeah, it actually is just like that.

Your examples are way off. A citizen who oversteps their bounds can be called for it in a million ways. If a cop is acting appropriately as they are SWORN to do on their job, why not call them on it? They earned it. Or should we just (as example) let spitzer go since he’s someone who oversteps his bounds at times?

What is wrong with making an informed decision? If I knew a cop was known to be harassing and abusive I would refuse to speak to them and ask for any other officer? Are we magically supposed to be sympathetic for someone being a downright putz?

People will try to claim the same things all over again – they will claim defamation, harassment, etc when people post the realities of just how corrupt some officers are. Of course they won’t even pay attention to how some people will blatantly give the “I SUPPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT” approach and that some people will honestly comment the officers for doing a good job in the course of duty.

I look forward to ratemycop, and if I actually have to deal with an officer again, he can look forward to his name going up (with an appropriate rating/etc)

Rose M. Welch says:

Re: It is not the same

Really? The children that rate thier teachers get to choose them? The college students who rate thier teachers get to deicde who gets tenure? Boy, I didn’t know that. Please explain how.

The point is not that the site is effective or ineffective. That doesn’t matter. The point of the article is that the site did not violate the terms of service that it existed under. The point of the similes is to compare it with other sites that provide the same type of forum, that are still hosted by thier service providers, as ratemycop.com should be.

RateMyCop.com is a forum to discuss experiences, good and bad, that have accured police officers, just as the other forums listed are there to host experiences with teachers, restaurants, and doctors, both good and bad. And all of that should be protected speech, no matter how full of piss and vinegar it may be. If I can say it on the street where their supervisor might overhear, then I should be able to say it on the Internet where their supervisor might stumble upon it.

Furthermore, everyone is so focused on ‘You can’t say that because a supervisor or future employer may see that…’. Perhaps the solution is not to limit what I am allowed to say, but for companies to realize that managers that hire and promote based on idiot sites like this one should be fired. Hmmm…. I smell a RateMyManager.com coming on…

🙂

DanC says:

Re: It is not the same

While citizens that have a complaint against public officials should go through the proper channels to file a complaint, there’s nothing illegal or wrong with a site like ratemycop.com.

they should not be treated differently as any other citizen.

Their job requires them to be treated differently. I can’t perform the same duties as a police officer as a regular citizen.

Alexander Fairley says:

Re: It is not the same

I see a few problems with your argument:
>1)”You choose teachers, doctors, restaurants, but you don’t >choose cops.”
We should be able to choose our cops, certainly not directly, as in “I’d like to be pulled over by Stevie today”, but indirectly at least, as in: “These guys should NOT be on the police force”.
>2)”You should complain to the city council.”
Usually, if there’s a real problem with the cops, there’s also a problem with the city council. Websites like “ratemycop” aren’t a substitute for keeping an eye on your local government, they’re an aid to the process. If you notice some fishy behavior on the part of the boys in blue, you may chalk that up to paranoia, or just a fluke. However, if you note this behavior publicly in a forum, then it can gather together with other reports to actually provide meaningful.
>3) Rating police officers diminishes the regard in which the profession is held.
This is really specious. Professionals behaving unprofessionally diminishes the respect in which their profession is held. Public access to information about how professionals behave should either highlight that they need to hold themselves to a higher standard of conduct, or make plain that they are doing a great job.
>4)Everybody goofs, why should cops have their goofs publicized?
i) They have guns.
ii) They have handcuffs.
iii) They are given substantial leeway in using the aforementioned items on citizens. Parents aren’t.

yoshi says:

@WisconsinGod

Unlike most other citizens – cops are in a position of authority which shown to abuse time and time again. In addition cops and the departments they work for go to great lengths to protect themselves. They are public servants. We as citizens have every right to utilize tools to as a balance check on bad cops.

Rich Kulawiec says:

Re: Yoshi's correct

They’re my employees, and Yoshi’s employees, and your employees. We therefore have every right to know every last detail of everything they say or do while working for us.

Now as a matter of practical policy, we’re unlikely to care about the majority of that. We don’t care that Officer X pulled over a car going 85 or that Officer Y investigated a reported prowler or whatever. What we are likely to care about are either (a) systemic patterns of abusive conduct or (b) individual incidents of sufficiently egregious conduct. And as we’ve learned, it is exceedingly foolish to trust that “the proper channels” will reveal all the facts concerned and/or take appropriate action in a timely manner.

So far from being concerned over such a site, I applaud it — we need more. We need such sites to cover every branch of our government at all levels. (Of course, some of that’s already been done. In that sense, this is just part of a larger effort.) Provided those sites are not either obviously biased to serve someone’s agenda, or overly focused on trivia that doesn’t have public policy impact, they’ve turned out to be quite useful.

Those who don’t wish to be scrutinized are free to decline to be public servants.

John says:

RatetheCar

I hope we can rate the tag number on the cop car too. I often see cops speeding and tailgating with no apparent reason. And yeah, they may have their reasons but if it’s a real emergency they should have their lights on.

The tailgating gets to me the most. It is a way to harrass the person in front of them for not speeding enough!

Jake says:

I think RateMyCop is a bad idea for several reasons, primarily that it is wide open to spurious and malicious claims and could potentially interfere with police disciplinary hearings, which in many jurisdictions are subject to the same contempt-of-court laws as criminal prosecutions.
Nevertheless, GoDaddy’s action was heavy-handed and summary, denying their client the one thing no cop who deserves to wear the uniform would even consider depriving them of; the right to defend their actions in a court of law. That is utterly inexcusable.

Rich Kulawiec says:

Re: Re:

I don’t get it. Really, I’m not being a smartass.

All web sites are open to spurious and malicious claims. I could write here that Mike Masnick’s left ear is the size of the Goodyear Blimp and that he imprisons his dog in it. Or something less outlandish and more believable — my point being that if we use this as a criterion, then we’ll need to shut down a LOT of web sites.

Second, how could this interfere with police disciplinary hearings? Unless those participating in them or adjucating them are in the habit of believing what they read online without some corroborating information, which I sure hope they aren’t. I would presume that at such hearings, there are evidentiary standards that have to be met before anything can be considered by the court.

Third, I don’t get the contempt of court reference. It’s my understanding that only those subject to the jurisdiction of the court and duly issued an order by court may be held in contempt: i.e., if you’re in Phoenix and I’m in Detroit, and the city court there tells you to do or not do X, that has no bearing on me: I’m not in their jurisdiction and they haven’t told me to do or not do anything. (IANAL, TINLA.)

Finally, let me point out something: sites like this are inevitable. If they’re sufficiently harassed, then they’ll relocate outside US jurisdiction. But hopefully that won’t be necessary; hopefully it will be recognized that they’re fully protected by the First Amendment, and represent the sort of citizen vigilance that the founders very much hoped for. And hopefully the people running them will choose wisely as to where to draw the line between public and private actions.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m glad they pulled it and they should keep it off.

I’m sick of all this crap, with people trying to make the jobs of Police, Firefighters, Teacher, and other difficult. These people are underpaid and under appreciated as it is.

GoDaddy can do what they want. If they don’t want their stinkin business they can cut them off. Let them go somewhewre else. Its about time someone stood up to all this crap. They just earned some of my respect back. And F all you First ammendment A-Holes. The first ammendment is out dated and needs to be revised anyway. Everyone wants their freedom and their rights so they can then go and abuse and express them in an irresponsible dispicable manner. Too many people misunderstand what Freedom and Liberty are. The way “freedom” is used today will ultimately be our undoing. Country full of low life pea brain dummies, I’m sorry to say.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Too many people misunderstand what Freedom and Liberty are.

Apparently, you’re one of them. The freedom to criticize our public officials is a fundamental American right.

The first ammendment is out dated and needs to be revised anyway.

The way “freedom” is used today will ultimately be our undoing. Country full of low life pea brain dummies, I’m sorry to say.

There are plenty of other countries without freedom of speech. I’m sure someone with such a fundamental problem with the Constitution, such as yourself, would be much happier in another.

Katie says:

Anonymous Coward

“The first ammendment is out dated and needs to be revised anyway.”

You have truly earned your name.

You know what? If you think free speech needs to be revised, you need to shut up and obey your own idiotic idea first. Shut up. No more talking from you. Nuh-uh. You don’t want free speech? Fine. You don’t have to have it.

Good luck trying to tell us not to speak when you aren’t allowed to.

Without free speech, we have nothing. You are suggesting mutilating the Bill of Rights. Do you even realize that? Idiots like you are the cause of my great shame as an American. I understand very well why the rest of the world looks down their noses at us — look who we elected *twice* to the highest office in the nation for crying out loud.

And look at all the terrifying powers we’ve given him! Look at the DMCA! This is *our* doing, and I am speechless at the degree to which America is willing to shred its own freedoms in the hopes of living in a place slightly more like Iran.

Why don’t you just move to Iran? Oh wait, even *they* have some measure of free speech. Silly me. How about… Nazi Germany? Too bad it crumbled. You’d be right at home there, I’d imagine.

Shut your mouth and don’t you dare open it again until you can find a way to express the desire for getting rid of free speech without actually *exercising* your right to free speech. By calling for the dismantling of free speech, you are performing an action of bizarre and moronic hypocrisy the likes of which would make the framers spin in their graves.

You’re a tremendous douchebag, and I hope you die in a terrifying manner. Soon.

And for the record, I think the very concepts of slander, libel, and defamatory speech are patently unconstitutional. I’m willing to go so far as to support hate speech. As unpalatable as it may be, we need to accept that free speech is an all-or-nothing deal. If we try to censor *any* of it, we are on a slippery slope to losing it outright.

And that’s my $0.02, spoken freely, TYVM.

Anonymous Coward says:

first admendment was designed so that people like the police can be watched and when they abuse there power it can be known. a re-design of the first admendment at this day would be a horrible horrible idea, the goverment is so corrupted by corperate policy that it would destroy it and the web, be carefull what you wish for, you may just wake up into a offical police state.

helix2048 says:

GoDaddy clearly states in their Terms of Use that they may for any reason shut down a website for (excerpt from TOU):
(viii) engage in any other activity deemed by Go Daddy to be in conflict with the spirit or intent of this Agreement or any Go Daddy policy.

It’s a simple CYA for GoDaddy. Remember that the internet is international and not bound to the US constitution, and the patriot act pretty much destroys anything about the first amendment in the first place.

Spyvie says:

I emailed go daddy on this issue and recieved a reply within an hour. I tried to forward the message to Techdirt but could only find a web form.(that sucks)… I’d say Go Daddy is a little more accessable and responsive than Techdirt.
=====================================================
Dear Mr. XXXX,

The situation with the Web site RateMyCop was absolutely NOT about censorship in ANY way.

The site’s operator has publicly disclosed the concerns were over bandwidth. More accurately, Go Daddy’s concerns were about how the RateMyCop site was far exceeding the amount of server usage for which it had contracted.

This customer paid for a shared server plan. The connections to his site were six times more than an entire ‘shared server’ accommodates. While he was paying for a service that cost $14.99 a month, his site actually required a much more extensive set-up.

Basically, he was paying for compact car, when he really needed a semi-truck.

The customer was not willing to work with our staff to resolve the issue.

While the “censorship” allegations certainly make for an edgy “story,” they simply had nothing to do with this situation.

– Go Daddy
Office of the President

John B says:

The fundamental problem with ratemycop

WisconsinGod has it right.

First: “freedom of speech” has nothing to do with godaddy. Godaddy is a business, not part of the government, they choose whether or not a client is allowed to use their services. They reserve the right to shut them down if they want to. It has nothing to do with them quelching freedom of speech. Its like if I owned a concert hall and some neo-nazi band comes to play – i can tell them to get the heck out. They can practice their freedom of speech on PUBLIC grounds.

Second: Ratemycop has no way to properly vetting these reviews for truth. What position is a person in when they encounter a cop? I dont know about you but 95% of the time anyone deals with a police officer is when they are in a bad situation. When im pulled over for speeding I’m P.O’d For the next week all i do is curse about it, and you expect me to write an unbiased review on how the cop performed? Please. And going against many of your rebuttals of wisconsingod, yes you DO get to choose your physicians, your college professors so percentage-wise, more people are apt to write honest reviews on these experiences. The overwhelming majority of situations that involve cops are not positive experiences for a person, and combined with human emotion that will exacerbate the number of misleading ratings.

To tell you the truth i hope godaddy shut them down because of the content of the site and not just because of the bandwidth.

DanC says:

Re: The fundamental problem with ratemycop

Godaddy is a business, not part of the government, they choose whether or not a client is allowed to use their services. They reserve the right to shut them down if they want to.

That isn’t accurate. While GoDaddy does reserve the right to deny, cancel, or transfer a domain name, it can’t do so “for any reason”. The terms of service set the situations under which GoDaddy can take those actions.

For the next week all i do is curse about it, and you expect me to write an unbiased review on how the cop performed?

Doesn’t matter. No one is arguing that there won’t be unfairly biased reviews on the site. In all likelihood, that’s probably what will comprise the majority of the site’s content. There is no requirement for criticism to be unbiased. Granted, that will probably mean that neither the reviews or the site itself will be taken seriously, but that isn’t the point. Criticism is rarely unbiased.

To tell you the truth i hope godaddy shut them down because of the content of the site

So we should only be allowed to comment on those public officials with which we’ve had positive experiences with, and then only through the “proper” channels (which are typically determined and controlled by those same officials). That’s not exactly a realistic expectation, nor should it be.

I agree that attempts should be made to go through the proper channels. But I also see no problem with a site like ratemycop.com. I wouldn’t put much weight on their reviews, of course, but again, that isn’t the point.

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