US Government 'Suspends' JotForm.com Over User Generated Forms; Censorship Regime Expands
from the not-cool dept
Many people on the comments assumed the content was posted by us. This can happen to any site that allows public to post content. SOPA may not have passed, but what happened shows that it is already being practiced. All they have to do is to ask GoDaddy to take a site down. We have 2 millions user generated forms. It is not possible for us to manually review all forms. This can happen to any web site that allows user generated content.I'm at a loss as to how this possibly makes sense. Even if the forms were being used for some illegal purpose (and it's important to note that Section 230 does not apply to criminal activity -- just civil offenses), I still can't fathom a reason why it should lead to everyone else getting censored and an internet startup facing a massive hardship wherein tons of users have had their service disrupted with millions of useful forms being suddenly disappeared.
And I won't even bother spending any time on the fact that apparently it was GoDaddy who helped the US government "suspend" the domain.
For a government that insists it's trying to help small businesses and startups, to go and disrupt one and all of its users over some possible illegal usage by a small number of users is just crazy. It's this kind of overly broad censorship (and, yes, this is clear censorship) that is what people were afraid of under SOPA. As JotForm notes, it's important to recognize that the US government already believes it has these powers. And the damage here for a small business is massive. JotForm has been filling its Twitter feed with customer service attempts at helping upset customers, and making it clear it has no information on why the .com disappeared. It looks like the US government asked, and GoDaddy just took away the domain. If you've never worked for a startup, perhaps you can't imagine just how insanely disruptive and destructive such a situation can be. Everyone is so busy working and building a company -- but something like this means suddenly all of their time has to switch over to help all of those upset customers (and doing so without being able to use the site that everyone will go look at first!).
Activities like this will chill innovation and entrepreneurship in the US. Why locate here or even setup under a .com if the US government might kill your business with no explanation at any moment?