Whistleblower site Cryptome.org shut down by Microsoft over leaked surveillance doc

jya.jpg John Young and Deborah Natsios' whistleblower archive Cryptome has long been a thorn in the flesh of US government agencies. But if my memory serves correctly, none of them ever managed to do what Microsoft did today: shut the site down.

Network Solutions shut off the lights in response to a DMCA notice, after Cryptome published a 22-page Microsoft document outlining how the company stores private user data in its web-connected servers. The document also explains how government agencies can access that personal data.

More at Wired News, and you can download the disputed PDF here. More at ReadWriteWeb, with comments from the EFF.

[ Photo: John Young of Cryptome, shot by Declan McCullagh, NYC, 2001.]


  1. Due to sending a DCMA notice and having a web site taken down this is now ‘news’ and materials that are news worthy get special protection under the First Amendment. There was really no better way to make sure that this will stay in the public view now. You guys are awesome.

    Next time have your Representative or Senator read it on the floor of Congress. That is protected by the Constitution itself and not just an Amendment.

  2. Well this sucks. As someone who had their blog shut down by ABC/Disney with a bogus copyright claim I can tell you how disturbing this is.

    I recommend the brave Marc Perkel and Ctyme hosting who put me back up after 1&1 backed down to a saber rattling Cease and Desist letter.

    The lawyers at ABC didn’t even do a well form DMCA request, but 1&1 caved anyway. I even REMOVED the “offending” data and they caved.

    It’s not big bother we need to fear in these situations, it’s Big Corporate.

    If you aren’t a member of EFF yet join. They are the only ones looking our for our rights in cases like this.

  3. There appears to be another big story here. Look at Cryptome’s backup site:


    If you scroll down a bit you can see John’s correspondence with Network Solutions regarding the takedown notice.

    Network Solutions informs him that if he files a counterclaim (which he did) that “upon receipt of a Counter-Notification from you, Network Solutions will disable your site for “not less than 10 days, nor more than 14 business days following receipt of the Counter Notification. During this time, the complaining party must initiate litigation. In the event that Network Solutions does not receive notice of litigation within the allotted time frame, your site will be reactivated.”

    So in any counter-notification scenario Network Solutions will kill your site? While the DMCA is problematic as it is, this policy guts the only recourse of the counter notification.

    It’s essentially Network Solutions saying to its customers that if you’re being unfairly targeted by a DMCA takedown notice and you say so, we’ll take your site down anyway.

    1. #4 – the 10 to 14 day language network solutions is using is taken directly from the DMCA. How could our legislators not see the potential for abuse here?


      The ISP must do three things if they take down a site:
      (A) notify subscriber
      (B) pass a counter notification on to the complainer
      (C) (quoted exactly:) “replaces the removed material and ceases disabling access to it not less than 10, nor more than 14, business days following receipt of the counter notice, unless its designated agent first receives notice from the person who submitted the notification under subsection (c)(1)(C) that such person has filed an action seeking a court order to restrain the subscriber from engaging in infringing activity relating to the material on the service provider’s system or network.”

      1. Yes, remove the offensive material (which could easily have been done by the webmaster). What Network Solutions said is they will take down the ENTIRE WEBSITE whether you remove the content or not.

        Their clause *should* say that they will take down the site for that amount of time unless the affected content is removed until the end of the time period or the dispute is finalised.

        Let’s put it this way: If youtube’s host (which is also it’s owner google) had the same policy, every DMCA counter-response by users would shut down ALL OF GOOGLE for 2 weeks!

  4. Hate to say it, but that’s pretty much par for the course when dealing with Network Solutions. We are, after all, talking about the same company that used to let you have a domain owned by someone else if you filled out the correct form and gave them $1,000.

  5. Um, yeah, NSI is only the worst registrar on the planet. Anybody still using them deserves what they get. (Though of course it can take up to 6mo to get a domain extracted from their clammy grasp so maybe there’s some excuse.)

    1. NSI is only the worst registrar on the planet.

      I don’t know. I have a special place in my spleen for Register.com, who calls me five times a day to renew, starting about three months before a domain/hosting/e-mail is due to expire. What makes it extra poignant is that they leave messages when it goes to voice mail, but never respond when I actually answer the call.

  6. Sounds like someone needs to find a new ISP.

    I’m not much of a sysadmin or programmer, and I don’t really have the time to read it over, but I downloaded the PDF anyway because someone I know might want to spread it around a bit more.

  7. Anon@#8 asserts that this demonstrates that NSI is the worst registrar on the planet. Far from it – there are much worse registrars, though they’re hardly close to the best. But it’s a good demonstration of why it’s a bad idea to use the same company for your domain name service and your web hosting service – they’re not only egregiously misinterpreting the DMCA by taking down the whole website and not just the one file that Microsoft alleges to be infringing, they’re also seizing the domain name itself, so John can’t easily move the website to another web hosting provider. Does this violate the terms of their contract with ICANN?

  8. Goat felching rat punk scum swolloping bull milking illegitimate lilly livered slime pandering mother cursed sheep abusing pus buckets! And that is just Network Solutions! Let me tell you how I feel about Micro$oft…

  9. I don’t get why MS wanted so much to hide this; I downloaded the pdf file ready to drop my hotmail account if it looked creepy, but as I read through it I thought that the policy actually seems relatively reasonable.

  10. It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft will actually commence an action: I’m pretty sure that Mr.Young’s reasons for publishing Microsoft’s Lawful Spying Guide are sound, and will prevail. I hope he gets costs from MS, too.

    Shut down? Not for long!

  11. I’ve downloaded the doc and am sending it to pretty much everyone I know. (Especially, everyone with a hotmail account.)

    This is the best defense against censorship. A kneejerk reaction to spread the information.

    Reading the doc, it seems like this is the kind of stuff that Microsoft should be posting publicly. There should be transparancy for this kind of thing.

    It’s all about them following the government rules. So why shouldn’t we know what the rules are?

  12. So, by filing a DMCA notice instead of attempting a debunk of that document basically MS is telling the world “yes, that’s true. We spy on our users and also give governments tools to do that”.
    Am i stupid or this explains why governments are so friendly towards Microsoft (endless deals, tax cuts, etc.)?

    I have a feeling this is going to become one of the best arguments ever for open source software, nonetheless the way sites can be shut down so easily is so disturbing.

  13. Cryptome is back…apparently, there was “miscommunication” between Microsoft, the lawyers, and the webhost:
    “We would like to notify you that Microsoft has contacted us regarding http://www.cryptome.org. Microsoft has withdrawn their DMCA complaint. As a result http://www.cryptome.org has been reactivated and this matter has been closed. Please allow time for the reactivation to propagate throughout the various servers around the world.”

  14. Pls help spread the pdf and this BoingBoing news item. If you aren’t a member of EFF yet, join ASAP!

  15. Microsoft has shut down a lot of sites simply because they were anti-Microsoft. I’ve counted 3 that I’ve found on StumbleUpon – all anti-MS sites whose domains were revoked. MS even took the additional step of getting shills to post pro-Microsoft propaganda on the StumbleUpon review sections for those sites.

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