by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 18th 2008 1:11pm
Over a year ago, we wrote about the Wikileaks project, designed to allow government and company officials to anonymously leak documents as a way of whistleblowing questionable activities. Apparently, it's been quite successful at times. However, in doing so, it's also building up a list of enemies, including one who has apparently convinced a California court to make the entire site disappear in the US. The Swiss banking group, Julius Baer, was upset by documents found on the site that they believe were posted by a former VP at the bank, alleging that the bank was involved in money laundering operations. Julius Baer's lawyers claim that having these documents public could influence ongoing litigation in Switzerland (one assumes having to do with money laundering). While it's understandable that the bank might not want those documents online, or that those documents might impact current litigation, that doesn't explain why the California court ordered the entire site offline, demanded that its registrar block the transfer of the domain, force the registrar to point all visitors to a blank page and also having the registrar hand over all information on IP addresses of people who accessed the wikileaks site. All of that seems rather excessive, and of questionable legality. After all, doesn't Section 230 of the CDA provide safe harbor for the service provider? I could see an order demanding the specific documents be taken down, but the rest of the order seems to go well beyond what's both reasonable and standard in cases of this nature. The folks behind Wikileaks are equally perplexed, noting that they were only given a few hours warning before the hearing, meaning they were unable to attend or send representation. All in all this seems rather excessive, especially compared to existing similar cases on record. Even odder about all of this is that since the court went after the registrar, not whoever is actually hosting the site, you can apparently still reach the actual site if you know the IP address.
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