The politically progressive Internet service provider, Institute for Global Communications, or IGC, suspended "under protest" today a Web site that was the focus of a denial of service attack.
While IGC staff members worried that they would be setting a bad precedent by the suspension of Euskal Herria Journal, they felt they had to take it down because the attack had been crippling the entire service.
"We suspended it under protest because of the mail bombing," Maureen Mason, program coordinator for IGC, said today. "But we're not closing the account or kicking them off."
For weeks, people mostly from Spain sent letters of protest, accusing the IGC of supporting terrorists. The IGC's mission is "to expand and inspire movements for peace, economic and social justice, human rights, and environmental sustainability around the world by providing and developing accessible computer networking tools."
But starting this weekend, demonstrators turned from mere words to attacks with bits and bytes that were intended to at least slow down, if not shut down, the ISP. They succeeded, at least in part.
Several protesters also emailed NEWS.COM, explaining why they objected to EHJ, which advocates "self-determination" for French and Spanish Basques.
"ETA is a terrorist organization and last Friday they kidnapped a randomly picked person, Miguel Angel Blanco, sent the government an impossible ultimatum, and shot him dead in the head Saturday despite the fact that during Friday and Saturday more than 8 million Spaniards came out in the streets to peacefully request his freedom," wrote one protester.
"We'll keep attacking any server who hosts Web pages of this terrorist organization, since it's unfair to think you [IGC] are defending other people's rights when you know nothing of them (except what they tell you) and when it's not your family, neighbors, or friends the people that are being beaten, kidnapped, and killed."
The message went on to say how the attack would escalate. "So far, the campaign has not been very organized, but it will be if this server (or any other) does not take that Web page down, and if it becomes organized, there are more Spaniards than needed to bring down a server no matter its bandwidth or processing power."
Mason said that while IGC respects the opinions of the protesters--and as a progressive organization is in the business of encouraging political dissent--she does not condone their particular form of demonstration. She likened it to a group protesting an offensive book by blocking a bookstore's entrance, vandalizing the store, and barring anyone from gaining access to the store to buy any book.
Under other circumstances, IGC just might choose to pull down the site if it determined that it didn't follow its mission. But as it stands now, removing the site would be telling Netizens everywhere that they can force Internet service providers to remove content--regardless of what that content is.
"The dilemma we find ourselves in is if we review the site to see if it fits our mission and take it down under duress, it creates an incredibly bad precedent for the Internet," Mason said. "We are taking it down because IGC and its members are under attack but not because of the content of the site.
"What if this happens to your antiabortion site or a site on a really hot political issue elsewhere?" she asked.
She added that IGC's goal would be to review the site while it is not under attack. But judging from the volumes and passion of the email, attackers are not likely to stop.