July 22nd, 2010
12:22 PM ET

The curious disappearance of blogetry

It was a free blogging service - until it disappeared, taken down for "violating its terms of service." Hardly unheard of, except that the reasons for Blogetery.com's disappearance were a little more complicated.

Blogetery is hardly a giant of the virtual world. It was run by one man, Alexander Yusupov, out of Toronto, Canada. Yusupov says it hosted tens of thousands of blogs and online forums through the internet service provider BurstNet Technologies of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

On the evening of July 9, employees at BurstNet "received a notice of a critical nature from law enforcement officials," according to a company statement released last weekend.

"It was revealed that a link to terrorist material, including bomb-making instructions and an al-Qaeda 'hit list,' had been posted to the site," the statement said.

BurstNet gave no further details about the material, but a source familiar with the case says it was a link to the new online al Qaeda magazine "Inspire," which includes death threats against several American citizens as well as an illustrated guide to bomb-making and other jihadist articles.

BurstNet says it immediately terminated service "due to this violation and the fact that the site had a history of previous abuse."

Joe Marr, BurstNet's chief technology officer, says the decision was very much the company's own. It was not ordered to do so, but the request for information from the FBI triggered a federal law that allows internet service providers to voluntarily disclose information in some circumstances and take action against sites they host.

That law specifically allows a provider to pass information to authorities if it "in good faith, believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay of information relating to the emergency."

The FBI wouldn't comment on the case.

Yusupov told CNN in a telephone interview that he had received no notice or explanation from BurstNet for its action. He said he returned from a camping trip July 12 to discover that his server had been terminated. When he complained on the site webhostingtalk.com, BurstNet responded on the same forum, saying: "We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details. By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot."

Marr told CNN in a phone interview Wednesday that Yusupov had received five warnings about content in the past few months, mainly concerning copyright violations. But he had not responded to three of those notices within the stipulated 24 hours, and Blogetery had previously been suspended for several days.

Yusupov denied that, saying he had almost always handled such notices within 24 hours of receiving them. "I always handle such abuse reports within 24 hours and remove such material. No hosting illegal material, no spamming, noting [sic] illegal," he wrote on webhostingtalk.com.

Yusupov says he had backed up some of the blogging site's data, but not all. He said he was trying to negotiate with BurstNet to get the data so he could restart the blogging site, but until he retrieved the data, he was in limbo. He said several Blogetery users had contacted him to complain that their content was no longer accessible. One urged him to "ask very specifically for an incident number and jurisdiction of the incident as documentary proof that they were justified in shutting down the server."

The case has caused much discussion among website hosts, with one - Mika Epstein of Chicago, Illinois - writing that part of the job was checking for terrorist propaganda and other questionable material. She has this advice: "If you can't keep tabs on your site and your visitors, you can't stay here."

If there is another infringement, "I close their account, refund them what's left on their time, and offer to give them a copy of their site and database, intact" she writes.

In the case of Blogetery, thousands of bloggers were caught in the middle of a dispute between their host and BurstNet, and - as of now - have no access to their content.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Security Brief • Technology • Terrorism
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. TH Thite

    lol 4chan

    July 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Smith in Oregon

    It is sad when US law enforcement and America's huge Shadow Government can reach across the borders of America to shut down blogs, websites and business's in neighboring countrys under one of many guises. Federal agencys are just as apt to plant and paste unwanted material on a foreign website or international blog in a crass, callous attempt to have that service shut-down.

    Under the recent corrupt Bush-Cheney administration, numerous business's and banks not located in America were besieged by US agents under the guise of the 'Patriot Act' demanding bank account information, personal and business information. The savy business's called their attorneys and showed the US agents the nearest door to exit the building, some banks and business owners caved in under threats of blackmail and extortion resulting in a large number of invasive checks on private citizens that had nothing to do with America and America's laws.

    July 23, 2010 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Ex Pat

      You are spot on! Except the current administration is corrupt, too. As best as I can tell, every administration for almost 100 years has been playing for the same team - and it's not Democrat or Republican. The Republic ceased to be ruled by the people around 1913 with the Federal Reserve Act, quietly becoming a plutocracy instead.

      August 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gatcho

    I'm actually a blogger at the said server. I spent months generating and composing articles there. Now, every single one of them is gone.

    July 23, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • CandySoul001

      Sorry landingpage1 – but Blogger and wordpress.com are terrible. We want free domain mapping and a great service that supports WordPress MU.

      Yes if anything this taught 'us' users from Blogetery to backup our entries weekly.

      I can't wait till the site is back up. If anything I'll be making a donation because of how much I LOVE blogetery's free domain mapping and wordpress support.

      Stay strong blogetery.

      July 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • envoys

      @Gatcho – that'll learn you to save backups often won't it?

      July 24, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. landingpage1

    That is why you need backups. Another option is to move your blog to another service. Blogger by Google is one choice, but if you want the same wordpress platform and backend dashboard BlogFive.com is the best choice. It is also free, but the key here is to back up all your data once every week, at least once per month. I know I am saying this, but I dont do this regularly myself. Some free blog service providers give you free automatic backup at a set schedule. I think BlogFive does not, but I am not sure..

    In any case, the hosting company should have given the server owner at least 24 hours notice before shutting down the server

    July 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
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    if this is true ……
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