Canadian Government Shuts Down Yet Another Yes Men Parody… Takes Down 4,500 Innocent Sites

from the collateral-prank-damage dept

Famous politico-pranksters The Yes Men have a long history of putting forth convincing parody websites that get those they parody to rush around to get the websites offline. Back in 2007, there was the fake ExxonMobil site that got pulled. Earlier this year it was the fake Chamber of Commerce site that the real Chamber issued a DMCA takedown over. The latest prank is based up in Canada, with the Yes Men setting up some parody sites of Canadian government organizations, promising massive greenhouse emissions reductions. This greatly upset the Canadian government who ordered the websites’ service provider to pull them down. However, as Michael Geist points out, in the rush to pull down the sites, the ISP also took down 4,500 other websites. Seems like quite a bit of unnecessary collateral damage. Of course, this is exactly what the Yes Men want. For every takedown, they get another burst of publicity.

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Comments on “Canadian Government Shuts Down Yet Another Yes Men Parody… Takes Down 4,500 Innocent Sites”

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The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Pranks are pranks... but...

The Yes Men pretty much blew it when they started to send out press releases that purported to be from the government. That crosses the line from a prank and moves right along to stupid.

They are getting all that they deserve for not having a little self control. They made the government look bad on the world stage, and now they are paying the price.

In China, they would be dead already.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Pranks are pranks... but...

I love freedom in China, I don’t have any issues when I am there. However, they do have an expedient legal system and little or no tolerance for people who falsely claim to be high government officials.

Remember the tainted baby formula deal? At least 2 of those guys were executed, and many others given death sentences “suspended” that will likely end up as life in prison without parole – EVER.

So the Yes Men are lucky they pulled their crap off against a soft hearted government, rather than against one that is less lenient in dealing with such stupidity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Pranks are pranks... but...

An “expedient legal system” like the SS, you mean? Yes, China is a wonderful place. No-one in their right mind would want to live in such a country, unless they are the ones telling people what to think, of course.

It is not freedom when any sort of non-violent political statement is suppressed with violence. If the moment anyone disagrees what they are expected to think they are executed, it is _tyranny_.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Pranks are pranks... but...

It is not freedom when any sort of non-violent political statement is suppressed with violence

This “political statement” was to speak in the Canadian’s government’s name, to issue press release(s) as the canadian government, and to operate a website with the intent to mislead the media and potentially to create political tensions inside Canada and on the world stage.

They can’t content themselves with a protest.

As for China, go spend some time there before you comment, your opinions would be very different. Heck, come join me next month, we can eat noodles for breakfast and go get the best foot massages on the planet.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Pranks are pranks... but...

While I sometimes fine their antics amusing, I’m forced to agree that they aren’t really that constructive or easy to condone. Parody is one thing, but they have been flirting with fraud – somewhat stupidly, as you say.

At the same time, as long as they are prepared to accept any legal consequences for their actions should they get caught, I can’t say I’m strongly opposed to their methods… protest is a basic part of democracy, and what they do is really just a creative form of protest.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Pranks are pranks... but...

While I sometimes fine their antics amusing, I’m forced to agree that they aren’t really that constructive or easy to condone. Parody is one thing, but they have been flirting with fraud – somewhat stupidly, as you say.

Indeed. I’m not sure they have a real parody defense on these things.

My issue is with the taking down of 4,500 other sites.

Also, the takedown of even the Yes Men sites just gives the campaign another round of desired publicity.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Pranks are pranks... but...

I don’t see the issue – the ISP removed their service, point. That they happened to have other sites in that service isn’t the ISP’s problem. They can find another host willing to take the heat, and turn their 4500 sites back on if they want.

Oh yeah, Mike, Techdirt is broken. It appears that unregistered users can use the name of a registered user, thus creating confusion. You might want to ask your offshore programmers to have a look at it.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Pranks are pranks... but...

Wow, you manage to be a dumbass twice in a single post.

I registed (hence the profile thing next to my name) and someone else is still posting with the same name. That is an issue.

As for the story, the ISP dropped their IP block entirely. That means that there is no route for any of their stuff. End issue. The ISP did what they needed to do to make sure the two sites were not up on their service, and didn’t want to play whack a mole about it. Drop the entire block, end of problem.

The Yes Men can take their IP block somewhere else, and provided someone else wants to provide them routing (doubtful at this point), they will be back up.

Perhaps you might want to try reading the stories and the comments?

The Anti-Anti-Mike says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Pranks are pranks... but...

I get what The Anti-Mike is saying. It’s like carpet bombing during World War 2. Drop lots of them and pray you’re actually hurting the enemy. It’s not the fault of the pilots dropping those bombs when a few civilians are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who cares if some of the sites that went dark may have been important in their own right? Look at it this way: if two terrorists are taken out for every 4500 people you kill, the term normally applicable is called ‘acceptable losses’.

I also understand the annoyance The Anti-Mike feels at having their profile name copied by others, which must certainly count as a form of copyright infringement. He went to all the trouble of registering it first and so it belongs to him. It must be highly irritating when people steal the oh so witty name he likely worked very hard to come up with. To make matters worse, the average poster here clearly isn’t intelligent enough to tell the difference between a comment made by the real Anti-Mike (who has a “profile” link next to the name) and some anonymous coward pretending to be Anti-Mike (who doesn’t).


The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Pranks are pranks... but...

Sorry, fail.

You need to understand a little about how the internet works, and you are good to go.

The ISP stopped providing routing for certain IP blocks used by the Yes Men. They didn’t delete sites, they didn’t melt their servers, they didn’t destroy anything. They chose to stop providing service to them. Most hosts, when facing a troublesome client that could bring the host grief will usually choose not to provided services to those sites anymore.

Sites like spent years going from host to host, as most hosts don’t want to take the heat that comes from hosting controversial material. The hosts aren’t usually concerned about the content, as much as they are concerned about the amount of time and effort to provide connectivity to this sort of thing. If they have to spend them answering the phone or dealing with legal actions, what ever they are getting paid isn’t worth it.

But you knew that already, right?

KevinJ (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Pranks are pranks... but...

I still fail to see how blocking service to 4500 websites makes sense.

If they are doing something illegal (which might be impersonating a government official), why not block them at their webhost. Because it isn’t like a webhost doesn’t know what websites it’s hosting. And with a court order it would be easy for them to take an entire website offline, or delete it completely.

Instead, they chose to stop providing routing for a block of IP addresses that contains 4500 websites that have no connection to the Yes Men. I’m guessing they had to field calls from pissed off website owners about how their website was blocked for no reason.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Pranks are pranks... but...

They didn’t block 4500 websites, that’s the point.

They stopped offering service to the yes men. if the yes men resold their services to others, that becomes their problem, not the ISPs problem. If you got caught up in the mess, don’t be mad at the upstream ISP, be mad at the yes men for causing such a problem.

It isn’t anyone else fault.

I don’t suspect this ISP fielded many calls at all, as these were not their 4500 individual customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Pranks are pranks... but...

Ah yes, tainting the Anti-Mike brand. I hope you realise that that handle has now become so associated with stupidity and inane commentary that no SERIOUS poster would care to use it, even to provide worthwhile rebuttals to what Mike is saying (i.e. that are not a simple negation).

And I hope you realise how pertinent your problem is to this particular article: someone is obviously parodying you by impersonating you. If you had your way, then we should just shoot that person dead.

But in these parts of the world, life thankfully isn’t that cheap. How about Mike prevents ALL users from using the Anti-Mike name? That includes you — which is acceptable given what you were saying above, right?

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