Mormons The Latest To Make Their Secret Documents More Popular By Trying To Take Them Down

from the is-streisand-a-mormon? dept

A couple months ago, in discussing The Streisand Effect with a reporter, the reporter asked if I thought lawyers would one day be accused of malpractice for not informing their clients of the potential implications of demanding some content be pulled off the internet. While I doubt it will reach the point of malpractice, it certainly does make you wonder what some lawyers are thinking when there are such clear examples of what happens when you try to suppress material online. Earlier this year, the lawsuit that brought plenty of new attention to the concept of The Streisand Effect was when a Swiss bank, Julius Baer, convinced a judge to shut down the site Wikileaks for hosting some documents related to a lawsuit Julius Baer was involved in. Of course, not surprisingly, the attempt to shut down Wikileaks got those documents much more attention (and did the same for Wikileaks as well). Eventually, the judge reversed the order and Julius Baer dropped the lawsuit. But the end result showed how badly the strategy backfired on Julius Baer. Before it demanded the documents be taken down, almost no one saw the documents or even knew that the bank was involved in a case that accused of it laundering money. Afterwards, a lot more people knew about the lawsuit and had seen the documents — and they were still online.

That situation got so much publicity, you would think that anyone would think twice about going down the same path. No such luck. Last month, Scientology threatened Wikileaks for hosting Scientology documents, and this morning (as a whole bunch of folks have sent in) news is coming out that the Mormon Church is threatening Wikileaks as well, for hosting church documents. In this case, the Mormon Church isn’t just going after Wikileaks, but also threatened the WikiMedia foundation and document hosting site Scribd. It went after WikiMedia because WikiNews ran an article about the document and linked to them (which is hardly copyright infringement). Scribd was apparently hosting a copy of the documents as well (since taken down). Wikileaks, however, true to its charter, is refusing to take down the documents.

While you can understand why the Church might not like it’s documents being made public, it does seem ridiculous that whoever decided to start threatening everyone didn’t do the most basic research to recognize what would happen as soon as they threatened sites. Given what happened with Julius Baer, it should have been abundantly clear that threatening Wikileaks would almost guarantee that the documents were both more widely seen than before and copied widely across the internet.

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Comments on “Mormons The Latest To Make Their Secret Documents More Popular By Trying To Take Them Down”

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CommonSense says:

Re: Re:

The contents of the handbook are not “secret”. Why all this sensationalization of something that is not? Because something is copyrighted does not make it a secret. Libraries are filled with copyrighted works, they are not secrets. Try posting on the internet a full copy of a book such as Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the copyright owner will come after you to take down the unauthorized copies. This is not a secrecy issues, it is protecting one’s copyrighted material.

The handbook contains administrative directions to the lay leaders of the church. Virtually all members will serve as lay leaders. Go to the public website and search for any of the topics of interest in the handbook and you will find even more information about that topic on that website. They are not secrets.

It is a sound administrative practice to limit the distribution of administrative operating procedures to those performing the tasks. When administrative procedures change, the old handbooks are turned in and new ones issued so that people will follow the current procedures, not old ones. This practice is followed by businesses across the world and is required by standards such as ISO 9000. It is not a matter of secrecy.

A copyright also prevents the material from being used in an unauthorized manner such as using it in another work and selling it. If the copyright owner does not enforce the copyright when it is known to be violated, the copyright can later be determined to no longer be valid.

mobiGeek says:

Culpable Mike

in discussing The Streisand Effect with a reporter, the reporter asked if I thought lawyers would one day be accused of malpractice for not informing their clients…

Mike, you gotta wonder if there aren’t some monkeys out there who will eventually come after you for having invented the Streisand Effect.

Afterall, if you hadn’t coined the phrase then they couldn’t be exposed to it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: WWJD?

Sure they are a Christian denomination if by denomination you mean someone who invokes the name of the Christ (Christian meaning literally “Little Christ”, kinda a mini-me) without holding only to that which the tanakh (aka. the old testament) foretells and the new testament then fulfills.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: WWJD? BZZZZZZZZT Thank you for playing

How delightfully uninformed of you.

The real name of the church is
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Now, please regail me on how a church that worships Christ, enough to have him in their name is not Christian.

It’s easy – believe in Christ == Christian. Any other definition is pretty semantical.

SkiBoy says:

Re: ??

There is NOTHING Christian about mormonism. Just because they have Jesus name in their title doesn’t mean that they are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are a cult. And just because they look nice, etc. remember Satan can appear as an angel of light, but he is the father of lies. Don’t be fooled by their slick ads and TV spots. There is NO other revelation from the true God except the Bible. It has been verified and substantiated for hundreds of years and even today stands as the only Word of God. No god but God!

SkiBoyisamoron says:

Re: Re: ??

Really there is no revelation from God? That is so funny of the heavens are shut they why would anyone ever pray God wont answer they because he doesnt ever reveal anything anymore. He has no stances on drugs or abortion or anything like that is that correct? How would we know unless we had revelation??? The heavens are never closed and your a moron. And how do you know they dont follow christ? have you been there? have you talked with their missionaries? have you prayed about it? Oh wait you wouldn’t pray because God doesnt reveal anything anymore. I really hope you dont consider yourself a christian

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: ??

And you are the ultimate authority on this how?

Sticks and stones, my friend, sticks and stones.

Your narrow definition of Christianity has no basis in scripture.

Christ’s only requirement to be a follower (a Christian) was to believe in him, be baptized by those he gave authority to, and do good works. Everything else is the manufacture of men. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take my info from the real source, not some angry, self appointed minister who doesn’t like what someone else believes.

Bob says:

Re: ??

Calling the LDS church a christian church reminds me of a story I’ve read about Abraham Lincoln. When asked how many legs a dog would have if a tail were called a leg, he answered, four. He explained that calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.

Calling a church christian doesn’t make it one.

a Member says:

Not Christian chruch??

please explane to me how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a christan Chruch?? we worship Jesus Christ is our savior.

but fromt he quick look i did at the wikileaks, they quickly pulled out the churches stance on some pratices that many people consider alright, but the church stance in contary to what everyone esle thinks is right, and i know when i was preaching i ran into many people that had heard of some of the doctrine that we know are true, but since they didn’t understand the basics of the gospel they would be turned away from the gospel. and no it’s indoctraning them. it’s teaching the truth. a baby dosen’t eat meat before milk.

Also from my view, i feel that it is easy to deal with a bad rep of pull documents then haveing to explane to someone who won’t listen why we believe this way, but if they want to know then they are more then able to talk with any member and find out the truth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not Christian chruch??

sadly you neither understand the LDS church nor it’s teachings.

And to have faith is certainly a more difficult prospect than not. It takes a lot more character to believe than be cynical.

And fate, my friend, by it’s very definition, is out of your control, whether you believe in a God or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not Christian chruch??

The mormon church was founded in the early 1800s by Joseph Smith Jr., who had previously had little involvement with any religion. He claimed to have had a vision saying that none of the churches at the time were correct and, after being chastised for it by his minister, claimed to have had another vision which led him to uncover a book of inscribed metal plates in Vermont. These plates were supposed to be prophetic in nature (despite all christian and jewish prophets having been in the middle east), and led him to found his own church. That he used the names and figures that christians — very powerful at the time — were familiar with was probably just a smart move. The church itself holds many beliefs which are contrary to 2000 years of christian teachings, and that’s even before you get to the “meat” as you call it.

Saying LDS is a christian denomination is being ingenuous.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not Christian chruch??

You better study before you try and explain.

1) The writings originated with a family that left Jerusalem just before it was destroyed. The father of that family was a prophet who was under threat of being stoned. The record consists of the writings of many subsequent prophets that lived in the America’s.

2) In the 2000 years of “Christian teaching” you refer to, how much of that teaching came from men, and how much came from God/Christ? Remember – part of the doctrine you are referring to dictates that there is no more revelation. So who was in charge? Who decided what was doctrine? How can any person decide to believe it or not?

3) Most any prophet is hated for saying he had revelation. Joseph Smith was no different. But the test the Bible gives – by their fruits ye shall know them, is pretty powerful. Helping millions of people come closer to God, believe in Christ, do good works, spread the word – exactly which of these do you condem Joseph for doing?

4) The bible did not exist as “The Holy Bible” until hundreds of years after the apostles died off. So what authority did the compiler have to decide exactly what writings went in it? Who are you to say that God doesn’t still reveal things to men? Why would he change policy all of the sudden?

But then this argument you post isn’t about digging in and finding truth, it’s a sound-bite editorial comment, with only one purpose – to emotionally drag others into your narrow and derogatory point of view. Which opinion you were taught to believe by whom?

random_texan (profile) says:

business as usual

Just goes to show that more and more churches are run as businesses rather than an actual place to express your faith. Sure we believe in Jesus. God’s good and all that. Now don’t forget to put your required tithe in the collection bowl. Gotta pay for that enormous cathedral. Gotta show just how much we love mone… I mean Jesus…. It was mentioned earlier, what could be so secret in the church that warranted a lawsuit? The secret code for everlasting life? It’s up, left, left, down, right, X, Y btw.

JoeSmithIsMyHomey says:

A couple of Mormon beliefs that are antithetical to Christian beliefs (off the top of my head):
Christ’s death on the cross did not absolve all men of sin for eternity.
Christ, God, and the Holy ghost are not one and the same.
Christ, and God are the same species as man.

Note: I don’t consider myself Christian, either.

LDS Christian says:

Re: Re:

(1) Christ’s death on the cross did not absolve all men of sin for eternity, it gave all men the gift of resurrection…
(2) Even the Catholic chruch didn’t beleive that Christ, God and the Holy Ghost were one in the same until after 325A.D. at the Council of Nicaea…
(3) Christ and God are exalted. With our good works we can return to live with our Father in Heaven…

HiveRadical (user link) says:

There are a few issues that don’t get considered.

To keep a hold of intellectual property rights present law demands that the holder of said rights can demonstrate that they’ve consistently fought to preserve those rights because they can be ruled as becoming public domain if an entity has not sufficiently sought to maintain their rights through litigation when infringement happens. So on one hand it’s kind of required by law that you not permit your infringed works to gain, uncontested, a pervasive level of infringement. Look to the history of the ‘escalator’ for an example of this, though there are others.

As to keeping things secret and remaining honorable in intent vis a vis the comments by one Anonymous Coward and Overcast I’d ask if any of you have children? If a parent is confident they are honorably raising their children then, following the reasoning of not keeping secrets, then all interactions with them, and all goings on in the home should be items and actions which you wouldn’t feel the need to keep from the world. I mean if honorable is equal to full disclosure then why do we have the moniker ‘Anonymous Coward’ positing the question? I think it’s important that keeping something secret is sometimes requisite, whether it’s to keep it sacred or to produce the best out come. The US constitution was drafted behind closed doors. Would we have the same constitution if it had been done with an open door policy? I realize we may have significant swaths of people that are not theists reading this, but one needs but look at Christ to see that secrecy in religion has been a constant. And also, if honorable work is inherently open then shouldn’t we have the capacity to see into any and all meetings by any and all groups, entities, and persons that claim to be honorable? Shouldn’t we then be able to eavesdrop on research activities done by any researcher? Access to their notes and to watch their labs? We certainly have the technology. Why not just have a society where anyone and everyone could spy in on anyone and everyone else ? If we’re honorable we’d “have nothing to fear” because who can be honorable and still have ‘secret documents’?

Blank says:

This post is kind of ambiguous. What were these secret documents? If these are confidential private records then of course the church is going to try to take them down. There are also things that are kept sacred and out of public view. And if you think thats not Christian, how many times did Christ tell his followers not to tell others what they had seen?

If you tell me that there are not things that you value as sacred and don’t share with others you are lying to yourself and everyone else. Aside from stirring up animosity against the mormons, this post is pointless because it leaves out the meat of the story.

Totally Agree says:

Re: Re:

Can people or organizations not have privacy. Tell you what everyone give me their bank account numbers and CC numbers, social security numbers, and anything else you wouldn’t want people know. Then I am going to make it public. I know it is a bit extreme but its kind of the same concept. There are things you dont want people to have.

Yakko Warner says:

Sensationalistic journalism

Doesn’t seem like much more than a case of copyright infringement to me, with another overzealous (no pun intended) lawyer sending out notices to sites for the ultimate crime of linking to infringing information. But I guess that wouldn’t get as many page views as “Mormons trying to hide their ‘secret documents'”. (If you read the comments in one of the linked articles, these so-called “secret documents” are available for purchase at any LDS distribution center.)

Anonymous Coward says:

I think this debate about Mormons being Christian or not is silly. What makes a Catholic a Christian, or a Lutheran, or a Baptist. They profess a belief in Christ and his teachings.

When stating that Mormons don’t believe the same things about Christ as other religions it should be remembered that most other Christian religions only exist because someone did not believe the same thing that the dominant Catholic religion believed.

You can tell someone that you don’t believe the same thing they do, but you cannot tell someone who honestly believes in Christ that they are not Christian because they don’t believe it Him exactly the same way you do.

JoeSmithIsMyHomey says:

There are a few religions that believe in Chris, even consider him a prophet. They aren’t Christians. Belief that Christ existed, that he was a good guy, that he had a lot to teach us, that the Bible is scripture, do not a Christian make. If they did I’d call myself a Christian.

The three things I listed are three things that ALL Christian denominations agree on that the LDS Church does not. These are not minor quibbles, but major doctrinal differences.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

(1) Christ’s death on the cross did not absolve all men of sin for eternity, (If what everyone else beleives is true I can go out murder, rape and molest and my sins are already forgiven me) it gave all men the gift of resurrection…
(2) Even the Catholic chruch didn’t beleive that Christ, God and the Holy Ghost were one in the same until after 325A.D. at the Council of Nicaea…
(3) Christ and God are exalted. With our good works we can return to live with our Father in Heaven…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

1) Christ’s death on the cross absolved no one but children of their sins – for the rest of us it gave us the option of repenting of our sins, and thus partially qualifying those who do for eternal life, or in other words living forever with God.

It was his resurrection that gave us the gift of immortality – or to have our spirit and body reunited forever in an uncorruptable state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And who exactly instituted these 3 tests on “Christianity?”

I assure you it wasn’t Christ or his apostles. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ll directly to the source for my doctrine, thank you very much.

Believe what you like, but none of the original apostles ever said they believed those things – are they then not Christians?

Tracy Hall Jr says:

The Church has good reason and every right not to publish its Handbook

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not try to protect its “beliefs” from public scrutiny. Why else would more than 50,000 missionaries labor to share their beliefs around the world, at their own expense?

I have, at times, been authorized to consult The Handbook of Instructions. But even if it should remain on the Internet I will not read it now, because I no longer have that authorization. It certainly contains nothing of a conspiratorial nature, or evil, or of any kind of threat to the public that might justify violating its copyright for any supposed “public good.”

Unlike most religions, The Church of Jesus Christ has no paid ministry. Its local leaders are lay members who have families and occupations. They do not ask to serve nor even plan to serve; rather, they are called to serve. They typically serve less than a decade. The Handbook of Instructions is a guide to leaders who come to their positions with no prior training. It is distributed to them to ensure that Church policies and procedures are uniform around the world. (By the way, only a few brief chapters pertaining to particular programs are available at Distribution Services.)

Unlike most other churches, we also do not decide which congregation we attend: we attend the ward in whose boundaries we reside. This obviously establishes a need for uniformity of policy and procedure. (You can learn the place and meeting times of your nearest congregation by selecting the link “worship with us” at and entering your address.)

Any members of the Church who has a question about doctrine or policy can ask his bishop, who can consult the Handbook. However, leaders are encouraged to prayerfully adapt these guidelines to particular needs and circumstances.

If the Handbook were published, it could tempt some members to take a legalistic approach to policies and procedures and try to see just how close they could come to “crossing the line.” Publication could also tempt some members who have more time on their hands than their leaders to make a hobby of knowing the handbook “better” than them, which could undermining their efforts to prayerfully adapt policies to particular circumstances.

The Church has every right to control distribution of its Handbook of Instructions. Copyright protects not just the right to publish, but also the right not to publish.


Quackers :) says:

Is a duck-billed platypus a duck?
It has the word duck in it’s name.
It may even swim and have some characteristics of a duck.
But why would it want to be called a duck?
Maybe ducks are more widely accepted and well-regarded in the fowl community.
We’re all in the same pond, so let’s not worry about our duckiness.
Life is about love.
Quack quack.

Sticky Hands says:

The Real Reason

The real reason mormons do not want the handbook released is because it commands Bishops and other “spiritual” leaders to ask little boys if they are masterbating.

No joke, masterbation is against the rules and you can be “disfellowshipped” for it but there’s no reference to it in any official church guidebook except for the one that was leaked. Pretty crazy.

CommonSense says:

Re: The Real Reason

It’s pretty sad that people are so bigoted against Mormons that they resort to making up lies about it. There is nothing in the handbook about Bishops asking little boys about masterbating. While Sticky Hands states this as a fact, you can search the handbook on the internet yourself and see that Sticky Hands is just making up stuff.

what? says:

Re: The Real Reason

I read the entire document on line, as you could have, and nowhere did I see it written in the “Secret” handbook anything about asking little boys if they masterbate. If you spent as much of your time building your intelect as you do spouting off you would know this. To me the handbook seemed quite boreing, but who knows. If The real Reason reads it he might learn something!

Buzz says:

I'm LDS.

No, Mormons are not part of the Christianity Club, which maintains an incredibly long, detailed list of requirements beyond believing and following Jesus Christ.

Mormons are Christian, though. I’m not sure how the definition of “Christian” became so complex over the years. Last I checked, a disciple of Christ was a Christian. Who are you to judge the LDS methods of going about that?

AGENTILE (user link) says:


Salt Lake Mormon!!Just 19 miles out of their control center
they have MORE info on all of us then the NSA, FBI, CIA all put together!! EVERY YEAR, their little guys waling the streets are gathering data from every county, every state, and placing it in their data base!! And Joseph Smith could NOT READ NOR WRITE!! YET in 1831 he `read’ GOLDEN TABLETS
that no one else could read!Then they disappeared!!Ask any school of Divinity across the U.S and they will tell you, there are TWO major “Cults” in the U.S.! The Mormons and the Baptists!! Just research the subject! NO DOGMA TO BACK UP THEIR TEACHINGS!! They are b.s.!
And YES they are in high places within the FBI and CIA!!
Frightening! They are really `spooky’! I have been “inside”
and know it to be the truth!

JoeSmithIsMyHomey says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Dont you ever mock the authority of a Prophet of God. And the funny thing is you have been judging LDS people this entire time as if you are the authortiy figure to say they are not christian.”

I’m curious why you think I was saying that not being Christian was such a bad thing.

Who is the figure with that authority? President Bush? The Pope? Your stake leadership? Whoever the old white guy is that replaced Hinckley? The truth is that you can take or leave what I say, but you’re deceiving people, intentionally or not, when you represent the LDS church as “Christian” knowing that it’s not in the conventional sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

convention is the providence of man – God doesn’t work on a democratic basis.

The deception, as I see it, is someone trying to insinuate that a God fearing, and Christ based church is somehow not to be thought of as such because they do not share your exact beliefs.

Reserving the title “Christian” for yourself based on a man made, and flawed definition goes against all that Christ taught.

duck-billed platypus says:

me again,
couldn’t help but wonder when it says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” if they really meant it. Hive Radical makes a good point, why did they keep the doors in Philly locked? A reporter should have been allowed in to comment on the proceedings if they were meaning it the way we take it today. I can’t for the water-filled life of me see that the press, or tabloids in most cases, or some random individual with crafty search skills being allowed to print whatever they want without regards to privacy of the individuals involved. If the documents are printed on public access, then fair game. But reporting what a secret military agency is doing, where a witness in a trial works and who his family is are not freedoms of the press covered by the Constitution. James Madison is rolling over in his grave. Think about what the words and meaning of those words meant to them back then. Apply them to what they mean to us today, and understand that people and organizations with hidden motives have stretched the aim of these sacred lines of text. The issue here is not relious or not. It is whether said organization has the right to have the information taken down. If the Constitution is a living document, then stop killing the meaning of the words. If it isn’t a living document,then start following the meaning of the words. Either way, this pond of ours is being taken over with algae……

JoeSmithIsMyHomey says:

“You are clearly a moron and love to take free rides and hand outs everywhere. You are one of those people that likes to blame others but yourself I am so glad that you dont consider your self a christian.”

It’s funny that when I read this the first time I thought it said, “You are clearly a mormon…” which didn’t make any sense. Thankfully,I read it again and, in fact, it still doesn’t make any sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…it does seem ridiculous that whoever decided to start threatening everyone didn’t do the most basic research to recognize what would happen as soon as they threatened sites.”

Umm… Maybe I’m pointing out the obvious but getting the facts and doing research is the opposite of belief. Why would they bother doing it this time?

JLFuller says:

Secret Mormon Documnets

I still find it odd that the very people who cry foul when their private information is discussed find it OK to publish what ever they want about someone else. If you read the manuals in question you will find nothing in them that is noteworthy let alone salacious. So it seems to be just another opportunity to attack on Mormons. These people don’t need anything meaningful just as long as they can howl a bit. This time, as most, they have gotten exercised over nothing – again.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think that WikiLeaks is seriously misguided if they truly “wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.” They are posting quite a bit of material about religious bodies and not much at all about seriously corrupt corporations. Maybe they should rethink the description on their about page.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mormons are definitely Christian. I think that the document just comes down to a copyright issue and interpretation of the law. The release of the book is probably of no consequence to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, except that if the church doesn’t pursue its legal rights now how will it ever in the future. The church needs to be consistent and protect their copyrights now and every time they are violated. The church probably won’t pursue monetary damages or compensation only that the unauthorized material be removed. It seems pretty idiotic that WikiLeaks is wasting their time on a church manual. It seems that we have enough government problems they could be exposing.

daveescaped says:

That an organization or group has documentation or property that it it wishes to keep secret should not be cause for alarm. In fact, such a desire to maintain some things as private is at the heart of American ideals and even laws. I think when a religion is involved we immediately assume something nefarious. I am LDS myslef. But I also belong to another more sinister organization that keeps its rites and rituals as well as many related documents secret. It is my college fraternity. How come no one is so concerned about fraternities or other social clubs. I am sure the Elks club has secrets. But no one is going after them. Why? Because their secrets are assumed to be dull. But if titilation is the motivating factor, please drop the pretense of fighting for a noble cause. Moreover, as can be easily seen from what has been made public, the LDS documents are dull as toast. Give up on this quest. Also realize that’ll you never know my bank balance, my secret thoughts in my journal, my fraterntites handshake, or my faiths guidebook for leaders. Get over it.

Brian says:

“It has been verified and substantiated for hundreds of years and even today stands as the only Word of God.”

The Bible has been accepted as the word of God, but I don’t think you can go as far as to say it has been verified or substantiated. There are many, many verified inaccuracies in the Bible – such as a world-wide flood that never occurred. And it’s common knowledge that Christians ignore sections of the Bible that don’t apply today. Homosexuality is still a big no-no because the old testament says so, but the Bible’s support of slavery and the death sentence for infedility is ignored by today’s believers.

I won’t insult you or your beliefs. Your faith is perfectly fine with me. But don’t paint the Bible as a perfect document to argue that Mormonism is a cult… it’s not. It may contain the words or God, but the editors were still men.

Frank G Fox (profile) says:

the Mob

Go to PACER online. You need an account. Do a search: Frank G Fox v. Natahn Tippetts/LDS Church.

The Mob launders money through the Church. Tippetts, an employee of the Church, has worked with a Mob fronted businessman (Allen Z Wolfson) in his last two positions.

I have discovered that the Church/Elders get 10% of the money, or over $1 billion a year. I have posted some of this information at

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