[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[dvd-discuss] WTO webpage crackdown

slightly offtopic, but with ties. without further ado:

----- Forwarded message from RTMark Bulletin <ann0093@rtmark.com> -----

Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 10:58:19 GMT
From: RTMark Bulletin <ann0093@rtmark.com>
To: "TOM.lemuria.org" <tom@lemuria.org>
Subject: Site-stealing program answers WTO crackdown on tom@lemuria.org

   This message is not commercial. Get off our list by writing

November 15, 2001

As it meets in Qatar, WTO attempts to shut down critical website;
group counters with site-stealing software

Contacts:  Jonathan Prince (mailto:jonathan@killyourtv.com)
           Jean-Guy Carrier (mailto:jean-guy.carrier@wto.org)
           Verio (mailto:copyright@verio.net)
           The Yes Men (mailto:info@theyesmen.org)
Software:  http://www.theyesmen.org/yesiwill/

Last Friday, Jonathan Prince, who owns the Gatt.org domain, received a
call from Verio, Gatt.org's upstream provider. The World Trade
Organization had just asked Verio to shut down the domain for
copyright violations, and Verio told Prince that it would do just that
if nothing was changed by November 13--the last day of the Doha
Ministerial, as it would happen. An official email followed

(Last-minute update: Verio's shutdown is currently expected sometime
after noon EST today--watch software sites above for updates.)

"It's the war," says Prince. "Bush has popularized zero-tolerance, and
it's open season on dissent of any kind. So just when they're meeting
in Doha, the WTO has decided to divert attention from its problems by
attacking a website."

"Or maybe they really do want to make it so that protest has as little
place on the web as it does in Qatar," adds Prince.

Oddly enough, the WTO has been aware of the parody website since
before the 1999 Ministerial in Seattle, when it issued a public
statement claiming the site misled visitors

Two weeks ago, the WTO issued another release
(http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news01_e/gattdotorg_e.htm), this
one claiming that Gatt.org was harvesting e-mails, an allegation
reprinted as fact in some newspaper articles

While it may be puzzling why the WTO chose to issue a second press
release about Gatt.org two years later, it is even more surprising
that they are now taking concrete steps to stop the critical site.  
In statements made just last week to the French daily newspaper
Liberation and to others, WTO spokesperson Jean-Guy Carrier stated
that "It's not our job to use legal means against people. We
appreciate dissidence and honest criticism."

Why the sudden change of attitude?

"They got nervous, it's only human," said Elaine Peabody, a
spokesperson for The Yes Men (http://www.theyesmen.org), the group
that maintains the Gatt.org website.  "The WTO remembers what happened
the last time they had one of these meetings [in Seattle].  They felt
like tackling something they knew they could handle--and a satirical
website fit the bill."


But the WTO could well have stepped on a hornets' nest.  To counter
the attack, the Yes Men have are releasing today a piece of
open-source "parodyware" (http://theyesmen.org/yesiwill/) that will
"forever make this kind of censorship obsolete," according to Peabody.

"Using this software, it takes five minutes to set up a convincing,
personalized, evolving parody of the WTO.org website, or any other
website of your choice," said Peabody, who helped to develop the
program. "All you need is a place to put it--say, WTOO.org,
WorldTradeOrg.com, whatever."

The software, called "Yes I Will!", automatically duplicates websites
as needed, changing words and images as the user desires--with results
that can be very telling. The WTO site can be made to speak of
"consumers" and "companies" rather than "citizens" and "countries."
Unleashed on the CNN.com website, the software can simplify the
reporting even further by referring to Bush as "Leader," and the war
in Afghanistan as one between "Good" and "Evil"; a Time.com article
linked from the site then discusses "The Poor Way of War". The parody
site updates itself automatically as the target website changes.

"The idea is to insure that even if they shut down our website,
hundreds of others will continue our work of translation," said
Peabody. "The more they try to fight it, the funnier they're going to

"Such heavy-handed tactics work as poorly in cyberspace as they do on
the geopolitical stage," said Cooper Kharms, another Yes Man. "At
least Gatt.org was transparent: you could tell what it was by reading
a line or two. These other sites may not be so obvious."

Prince thinks the software, while interesting, is not a solution.
"With their attack on Gatt.org, an unelected, unaccountable
organization is running roughshod over the USA Bill of Rights," said
Prince. "But every day they violate people's rights in the Third
World, or enable corporations to do so. This time it's just closer to

For more on the legal basis of the WTO's attack, see also

RTMark's primary goal is to publicize corporate subversion of the
democratic process. To this end it acts as a clearinghouse for
anti-corporate projects.

                             # 30 #

   This message is not commercial. Get off our list by writing
   If you are receiving multiple copies of this release and would 
   rather receive only one, remove as above all versions but one.

----- End forwarded message -----

pub  1024D/D88D35A6 2001-11-14 Tom Vogt <tom@lemuria.org>
     Key fingerprint = 276B B7BB E4D8 FCCE DB8F  F965 310B 811A D88D 35A6