Friday, 3 December 2010

US Provider Drops WikiLeaks; Site Moves to Swiss Domain


Updated: 3 minutes ago
Lauren Frayer

Lauren FrayerContributor

(Dec. 3) -- The American company that provided WikiLeaks' domain name pulled the plug overnight because of cyber-attacks that it said threatened the other half-million websites it hosts. But within hours, the whistle-blower website had popped back up with a new Swiss domain name.

The company, EveryDNS.net, issued a statement on its website saying that it provided WikiLeaks' domain name until 10 p.m. EST Thursday, "when such services were terminated."

"WikiLeaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure," the company said in another statement cited by The Associated Press. It said it alerted WikiLeaks to the shutoff 24 hours ahead of time.

The whistle-blower website has been the target of unknown hacker attacks after publishing three huge troves of classified U.S. documents from the military and diplomatic services, which has outraged Washington. Some American lawmakers have called for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, to be prosecuted under the U.S. Espionage Act.

Authorities in Sweden are seeking Assange's detention for questioning in a sexual assault investigation, and Interpol has issued a "Red Notice" for his arrest, though he's not been formally charged. The reclusive 39-year-old has said he believes the sexual assault allegations are part of the same hacker campaign to attack WikiLeaks and discredit him.

After EveryDNS severed WikiLeaks' domain name, the website wikileaks.org ceased to exist. But within hours, the website was available with a new suffix: wikileaks.ch. The content has also popped up on several other websites, including one called Cablegate. In the past, Assange has said his group has contingency plans in place if its Web infrastructure is disabled somehow. It's unclear whether the Swiss domain name and Cablegate are part of those plans.

On Twitter, WikiLeaks acknowledged that its domain name had been "killed" and asked for donations to "KEEP US STRONG," it said in all-caps. Later, it posted its new Swiss domain name with a message saying, "WikiLeaks moves to Switzerland."

EveryDNS is following in the footsteps of the online megastore Amazon.com, which initially allowed WikiLeaks to temporarily use its servers to distribute its latest leak of U.S. diplomatic cables, after cyber-attacks on the website last weekend. But after pressure from Sen. Joe Lieberman and other U.S. lawmakers, Amazon decided to evict WikiLeaks from its servers Wednesday.

Anticipating potential cyber-attacks because of its controversial work, WikiLeaks has long hosted its content on several different servers around the world. The number is unknown, but one of them is the Swedish host Bahnhof, which continues to carry WikiLeaks content today, the AP reported. It's unclear how many others exist.

Amazon denied succumbing to U.S. pressure to evict WikiLeaks and said it decided to do so because the whistle-blower group violated its policies by publishing material it didn't own or control the rights to.

"When companies or people go about securing and storing large quantities of data that isn't rightfully theirs, and publishing this data without ensuring it won't injure others, it's a violation of our terms of service, and folks need to go operate elsewhere," the company said.

Afterward, WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter that if the online bookseller was "so uncomfortable with the First Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution], they should get out of the business of selling books,"MSNBC reported.