A 70,000-user blog network has been cut off following an FBI tip-off about al-Qaeda content, the site’s ISP has said.
When the FBI told executives of internet service provider Burst.net that blogs hosted on Blogetery allegedly contained bomb making instructions and names of Americans targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda, Burst.net pulled the plug, according to a CNET report.
There was confusion initially about why the site had vanished from the Internet along with forum-hosting site lpbfree.com. Later reports emerged from a Burst.net employee that the FBI had ordered the shutdown. However Burst.net CEO Joe Marr later told CNET that this was an error and that Burst.net had voluntarily shut down the site.
Apparently appealing to patriotic duty, the FBI had sent a "Voluntary Emergency Disclosure of Information" request, claimed the site hosted terrorist material which presented a threat to American lives. Marr told the CNET that such material violated the ISP’s terms and conditions but it’s unlikely any provider would want to be regarded as a safe haven for terrorist networks.
Under this legal framework the FBI can request that an ISP turn over information without being compelled by a court order, presumably free from ramifications of privacy violation. The request also compels an ISP not to discuss the investigation.