Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Times Flogs Blog Clog

An article in today's New York Times (February 20, 2008) exposes the curious matter of a San Francisco federal judge attempting to stifle whistleblower bloggers.

As the result from--get this--a suit from the Cayman Islands, that bastion of transparency and probity, Judge Jeffrey S. White shut down--no let's put that in inverted commas, "shut down," the Website.

Judge White did this by forcing the organization's Internet domain name registrar to put the kibosh on users' access to "www-dot-wikileaks-dot-org."

We ask: what was he thinking? Exactly what purpose is served by the erection of one-millimeter speed-bumps?

Actually shutting down Internet access to free speech, as you saw if you just clicked on the above URL, and as authorities discover daily in certain countries that don't believe in it, turns out to be not quite so easy. The IP address still works, as you just saw. What's more, putting " mirror" in a search engine quickly gives access to the meshwork of sites that ardently defend this group's mission.

We make no pretense of having performed extensive research on the net "goodness" of the organization behind wikileaks. But, as the Times points out, "forbidding the dissemination of ... documents, is a more classic prior restraint on publication. Such orders are disfavored under the First Amendment and almost never survive appellate scrutiny."

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