Domain hoster Go Daddy has shut down a Web site that lets people criticize individual police officers, saying it was using too much bandwidth. But the site owner says he is being censored after police complained.
Up until Tuesday, visitors to RateMyCop.com were able to post comments and ratings on specific police officers. The site disclosed officer names and badge numbers, which is public information.
Late last week, KGO TV in San Francisco ran a news story saying that police officers wanted the site shut down, claiming it puts them at risk by revealing their information.
On Wednesday, the site continued to be offline displaying a message that says "Oops!!!" and urged the site owner to contact Go Daddy.
RateMyCop founder Gino Sesto contacted the company and was initially told the site was shut down for "suspicious activity," according to Wired News.
Then a supervisor told him the site had exceeded its 3 terabyte bandwidth limit, but Sesto disputes that, telling Wired News: "How can it be overloaded when it only had 80,000 page views today, and 400,000 yesterday?"
Go Daddy spokesperson Elizabeth Driscoll told CNET News.com that the site was using six times the amount of bandwidth allotted for its $15-a-month "shared server" plan.
"Basically, he was paying for compact car, when he really needed a semi-truck. The customer was not willing to work with our staff to resolve the issue," she wrote in an e-mail. "The situation was absolutely NOT about censorship in ANY way."
This isn't the first time Go Daddy has been accused of censoring a site because of outside pressure. A year ago, it pulled the plug on a security list Web site, after giving the site owner less than an hour notice, after MySpace complained that there its members' usernames and passwords were archived on the site.
After that incident, CNET News.com asked a Go Daddy executive under what circumstances would it suspend a customer's domain name based on the content of the Web site, in the absence of a court order. "Go Daddy takes action to suspend a domain name in cases where the domain name is being used for, or in association with, illegal activities. Our most common instances involve phishing sites, child pornography Web sites, terrorist sites, and the like," Go Daddy General Counsel Christine Jones said. "As an established partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we also take action based on sites that pose a significant threat to or exploitation of children--as was the case in this instance."