Web host criticized for closing blog service

Burst.net is under fire for cutting off service to Blogetery.com, a blogging platform the FBI says was used to store terrorist materials.

Did a Web hosting company go too far when it terminated service to Blogetery, a free blogging platform that authorities allege was being used by al-Qaeda to recruit and pass information, including names of Americans targeted for assassination?

That's the opinion of some Internet watchdog groups and the service's proprietor. On Tuesday, The New York Times interviewed Alexander Yusupov, who told the paper he is Blogetery's owner and sole employee.

Over the weekend , news outlets had begun reporting that the blogging platform had closed. Blogetery had claimed to service more than 70,000 blogs, although that number is now being disputed by Burst.net and others. On Monday, CNET reported that Blogetery was pulled down following an FBI discovery that someone using the service had linked to bomb-making instructions and hit lists .

Yusupov, who has apparently not been accused of any wrongdoing himself, told the Times that executives from Burst.net, Blogetery's Web host, didn't show him any documentation to prove the FBI's claims. "They just took it down," he said.

And when the service was taken down, other people who had blogged via Blogetery, and were presumably unconnected to the al-Qaeda, lost their pages. Yusupov told the Times that while he backed up some of the information, some users' materials are gone forever.

Joe Marr, Burst.net's chief technology officer, made no apologies in an interview with CNET on Monday. Marr acknowledged that an employee goofed when the person originally informed Yusupov and members of the media that the FBI had ordered Blogetery be shut down. The FBI had nothing to do with it, Marr said. Blogetery was cut off because it hosted material that violated its terms of service.

Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Times: the "tragedy is that thousands of blogs will be taken offline for no good reason."

More to come.

 

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