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70,000 Blogetry blogs shut down; law enforcement agency responsible [Update]

In a mysterious series of events, the Wordpress blog platform Blogetry, used by approximately 70,000 bloggers around the world, shut down with little warning and no explanation, according to ReadWriteWeb. On a BurstNet discussion board, the owner of Blogetry details the events of the last few days. BurstNet, the web hosting company who owned the server that Blogetry resided on, sent the owner of Blogetry an email informing him that “due to the history of abuse and ongoing abuse on this 'bn.***********' server...We have opted to terminate this server, effective immediately.” After submitting a support request, and waiting over 24 hours for a response, BurstNet responded,

“Bn.xx*********** was terminated by request of law enforcement officials, due to material hosted on the server. We are limited as to the details we can provide to you, but note that this was a critical matter and the only available option to us was to immediately deactivate the server.”

This is very different than a regular Cease and Desist request typically issued by copyright holders who find stolen material on hosted blogs. Blogetry claims that they deal with those requests all the time, and that they deal with those issues usually within 24 hours. In this case, no warning was given, the law enforcement agency responsible for the takedown was not identified, and no reason for the takedown was forthcoming.

BurstNet credited Blogetry’s account for services not rendered and declined to comment on any further request for information. They are not giving access to Blogetry to recover important personal information, nor will they identify, after repeated attempts at communication, the nature of the law enforcement agency responsible. According to BurstNet,

“Please note that this was not a typical case, in which suspension and notification would be the norm. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.”

Until the issue is resolved, 70,000 people have lost access to their content, and nobody knows why. 

Update:  According to Cnet, the FBI was behind the takedown of Blogotry, but only indirectly. According to CTO Joe Marr, BurstNet was informed by the FBI on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on a blog hosted by Blogotry. The FBI did not, however, order a takedown of the site. That was a mistaken explanation given by an employee of BurstNet. Burstnet was the entity responsible for the takedown; the FBI's communications with sites web hosts like BurstNet usually only involve issuing warrants for information about users or content. However, the FBI does allow the web host to voluntarily shut down the sites involved in such investigation for suspicious or malicious content, including child pornography and terrorism. The BurstNet employee that was dealing with the FBI's request about Blogotry erred in assuming that the Bureau would want the server itself, not just the information requested for investigation. However, according to Marr, the mistake is inconsequential; Service was cut off because hosting bomb-making instructions and "hit lists" are very much against BurstNet's Terms of Service. 

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