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Complaints & Rumors

Payback for rewarding censorship?

Two of the world’s top domain name registrars were in the news this week for breaches in security. Register.com and Network Solutions both share the shameful position of being compromised. For Register.com, the lack of maintaining a secured DNS for major Chinese search engine Baidu created an unfortunate set of circumstances. As for dual registrar and web host Network Solutions, several hundred sites across its 6 million plus domains were hijacked and defaced. The suspected culprit in both of these attacks share Muslim sympathies. The interesting twist is how both of these companies work tirelessly to promote censorship, and are in a similar way muted themselves.

As outrageous as these claims appear, consider this.

Register.com is currently embroiled in a lawsuit brought on by Chinese search engine Baidu. The lawsuit was filed on January 20, 2010 in response to the security breach of Baidu’s DNS records. The breach re-routed Baidu visitors to a website celebrating the Iranian Cyber Army. You may be familiar with their work from recent Twitter hacking this past December. In its lawsuit, Baidu levied some heavy charges against Register.com, asserting that it had criminally “aided and abetted” the culprit, whether directly or indirectly.

It’s nice to know that Baidu recognizes right from wrong and that it is morally reprehensible to suppress information or for cyber despots to re-route queries to information that the despot wants to give, instead of giving the information that is requested.

Perhaps Baidu is so quick to recognize it because they are the ones who engage in that type of assault against the Chinese people. Censorship is huge in China, and Baidu makes no apologies for this. Fortunately, Google has stood up against censorship, but unfortunately Register.com has become victim to it. In its enabling of Baidu, Register.com has found itself an unwitting victim. Perhaps Register.com should have re-considered taking on as a client a company that routinely suppresses and cherry-picks information to give to its visitors. Perhaps if Register.com had valued basic human rights over the almighty dollar (or yen), it would not be in the uncomfortable position of getting sued at this moment.

Let’s not forget Network Solutions. We all remember them for their work in taking down the Fitnathemovie.com website in March 2008. The controversial Dutch movie discussed the possible origins of violence in the Muslim world. Their simple act of censorship provoked an intense backlash. Protesters everywhere took to YouTube to broadcast the film, and perhaps make it more popular, all at the same time blasting Network Solutions. In a strange twist of fate, sites across Network Solutions were hacked and defaced by an anti-Israeli group with the signature, “HaCKed by CWkomando.”

The ultimate question for both Register.com and Network Solutions to answer is this one: exactly how much have you profited by “aiding and abetting” in the suppression of free speech and thought?

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