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  (Source: Unreality Magazine)

The Canadian government has censored a pro-global warming hoax/parody site by the U.S. group "The Yes Men". In the process Canada also accidentally shut down 4500 other innocent environment sites.  (Source: Sundance Movie Festival)

The Yes Men are Jacque Servin and Igor Vamos, who go by the aliases Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (respectively).  (Source: Uniter)
Blame Canada for this one

Canada seems likely a pretty friendly neighbor to the U.S. -- hardly the kinda of place where you would expect censorship to rear its ugly head.  However, that's exactly what happened in an example of the nation trying to silence dissent on the internet.  The story serves as a reminder that censorship is occurring on both sides of the warming debate, not just the skeptics.

According to The Seattle Pi, Canada has taken down two websites by The Yes Men, an activist group that had posted fake press releases posing as the Canadian government to try to push the country to action on global warming.  However, that was just the start of the snowball -- Canada's takedown effort has killed over 4,500 innocent sites as well.

The debacle began when the "Yes Men" pranksters announced that Canada would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 40 percent from 1990 levels, and 80 percent by the year 2050, reductions roughly in line with those pledged by U.S. President Obama.  The supposed "announcement" came as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government was instead secretly discussing plans to permit a 165 percent increase in emissions from Alberta's huge oil sands project.

Enraged at the fake statements, Mike Landreville from Environment Canada (Canada's EPA equivalent) wrote German Internet Service Provider (ISP) Serveloft asking them to take down the two sites involved -- "enviro-canada.ca" and "ec-gc.ca" -- to avoid the "deception" of the Canadian public.

He wrote, "We trust you appreciate the importance of avoiding confusion among the public concerning Canadian governmental affairs and that you will assist us in preventing this hoax from spreading further."

Then he took things a step further, asking the ISP to "make every effort to prevent any further attempts concerning other environment-related domains (enviro, ec-gc, etc.) originating from your servers."

The ISP bowed to the nation's request, and in the process took down 4,500 Canadian environment sites that were innocent bystanders.  Mike Bonanno of "Yes Men" blasted the takedown, stating, "We are sorry to see that the Canadian government will not 'take certain actions' that could help stave off catastrophic climate change and we are sorry to see that they don't care so much for free speech."

The hoax was quite artful.  The "Yes Men" printed press releases on what look like official Canadian government stationary and even included a fake PR shot of someone who looked like Uganda's climate representative standing in front of a replica UN podium, praising Canada's "decision".  Worldwide hundreds of news sites ran with the story, completely fooled. 

The "Yes Men" consist of Jacque Servin, an author of experimental fiction, and Igor Vamos, an associate professor of media arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York.  Mr. Servin is infamous in the tech community for placing images of kissing men inside SimCopter while he worked as an employee at Maxis.  The prank was not discovered until after the game's release. 

Since, the pair have become even more famous for the war of hoaxes they wage on those they feel are a destructive influence on society.  Most famously, after Dow Chemical did little to help the victims of a 1984 chemical disaster that left 120,000 in India needing long term care, the "Yes Men" sprang into action.  They released a "Dow" press release claiming that the company was liquidating the involved subsidy to pay for the victims' medical costs.  The storm of negative PR against Dow's subsequent denial of the statement didn't lead to that happening, but it did punish Dow for its inaction, devaluing the company stock by approximately $2B USD.

Ultimately, the pair has yet again succeeded in the Canadian debacle.  First they have brought international media attention to Canada's global warming policy (claiming to support emissions reductions while secretly brokering emissions increases).  Second, the bungled takedown attempt not only draws more attention to the topic, but also to the perils of censorship.  Much as China is perpetually criticized for its own displays of censorship, the Canadian government will invariably be taking some heat over this gratuitous display of internet censorship in coming weeks. 

The sites involved now appear to be up again, with a brief message describing the takedown.  Some of the sites in the ISP block appear to be back to life as well, following the wave of complaints Serveloft received.



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Censorship my @**
By mdogs444 on 12/31/2009 12:08:19 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
hardly the kinda of place where you would expect censorship to rear its ugly head. However, that's exactly what happened in an example of the nation trying to silence dissent on the internet.

quote:
Canada has taken down two websites by The Yes Men, an activist group that had posted fake press releases posing as the Canadian government to try to push the country to action on global warming.

Jason - even if you are (which you most definitely are) a Global Warming advocate, not even you can classify this as an example of "censorship". This group is imitating a government office and posting fake press releases on their behalf while trying to pawn them off as real. If anything, this is this has to be illegal in some way or form, perhaps imitating a government official/office?

Why is it that these global warming activists don't realize that pushing extremely false information and telling everyone that the world is ending with their alarmist rhetoric does nothing more than make people question and doubt the entire movement?




RE: Censorship my @**
By mdogs444 on 12/31/2009 12:11:12 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
However, that was just the start of the snowball -- Canada's takedown effort has killed over 4,500 innocent sites as well.

And not to question your story here completely, but I'd like to see these "4500 Innocent sites" you speak of. I have a strong feeling that they are owned/linked to the Yes Men and other connected groups that are doing the same type of irresponsible actions.


RE: Censorship my @**
By Trisped on 1/2/2010 12:23:14 PM , Rating: 5
From the quote it seems a little ambiguous what sites were taken down. It sounds like the Canadians wanted to prevent the content from being reposted at other sites. Weather the ISP did this or just pulled the plug on all their environmental sites is unclear in the article.

I agree with the Canadian government, you should never impersonate the government to get your point across.


RE: Censorship my @**
By Cbac on 1/2/2010 7:45:39 PM , Rating: 3
There's a note on one of the original sites (http://www.ec-gc.ca/) it sounds like the 4500 were on the same server / within the same IP range as the 2 main offending sites. In taking quick action the ISP also downed the 4500 sites.

I admitably know jack about how hosting websites works but ultimately it sounds like the people respsonsible for hosting the 2 main websites were also responsible for hosting the rest. Given that, the nature of this prank and how poor/misleading this article I have to wonder if the hoaxsters may have not set up those sites in such a way that they'd be bound to be taken down. "Censoring 4500 sites" does sound a lot more dramatic than "shut down 2 sites impersonating official government sites" and would serve the attention whoring aspect of this stunt nicely.


RE: Censorship my @**
By eddieroolz on 1/3/2010 12:47:50 AM , Rating: 2
I think this action was overdue. Good for the government to take these imposters down.


RE: Censorship my @**
By Reclaimer77 on 1/4/2010 9:55:28 AM , Rating: 4
Yeah this is journalism at it's worst, even for Mick.

Jason Mick, if you read this, you honestly disgust me as a human being.


Another sad day for journalism on DailyTech.
By arazok on 12/31/2009 12:23:37 PM , Rating: 5
It’s not censorship when the government tries to take down a site that is fraudulently trying to represent itself as an official government web site, hoax or not.

The headline is misleading, the article is misleading.




By tastyratz on 1/4/2010 8:38:05 AM , Rating: 3
Lies! I would never expect such a thing from Mick.

Come on Jason give us a break, this is bad even for you. How are we supposed to take your other articles seriously when you pull stunts like this blatantly misleading biased b.s.?


This is not the only Censorship Canada does
By TheEinstein on 1/2/2010 12:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
You might be surprised to hear this, but Canada has a LONG history of censorship.

Foxnews is not allowed to be broadcast in Canada.

Nor is Sirius Radio allowed to broadcast certain channels in Canada.

Other Censorship evolving around Conservative values happens almost daily there.

This is merely the first time it has struck the left, and now the left is upset? If I were a lefty I should have been upset a long long time ago about ANY censorship.

Canada is headed to Tyranny as fast as America is, what a good joke on our continent.




By Cbac on 1/2/2010 8:59:34 PM , Rating: 4
Not sure where you got that info but it's wrong/misleading.

Foxnews is available here (I certainly get it on my satellite box at least). It was at one point turned down but later (think 1 yr later) allowed. But to call that censorship (particularly trying to claim it was due to Fox's conservative nature) is incredibly misleading. It was originally denied as it was a strictly American broadcaster that was seeking a licence while a Canadian broadcaster was trying to work out a deal to bring Foxnews to Canada as a joint deal. At the same time other broadcasters weighed in with similar concerns that bringing Fox in would discourage other American broadcasters from trying to strike joint deals with Canadian broadcasters (opting to go it alone) to achieve penetration in the Canadian market. IE: they were originally denied b/c it was deemed bad for Canadian broadcasters. Trying to protect national interests, I don't believe is censorship.

Not sure which Sirius channels you're talking about, but again, I highly doubt it's as you say as you seem to be twisting things to your end (still wondering where you're getting the left is upset over this). Off hand though, my guess is some channels were cut either b/c of limits on American content or to make way for CRTC mandated Canadian content. The CRTC often does do that, again for Canadian interests. Unless you're able to specifically point to a record of the CRTC saying "You can't play that!" I would assume any cut shows were made as a business decision by the broadcasters themselves.

Canada has it's problems but I wouldn't count censorship among them.


By Tyhr on 1/6/2010 1:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
I am VERY surprised to hear that...especially since I'm WATCHING FOXnews on tv through regular cable right now...in Canada.

I think there are some Sirius Radio stations that are not licensed to broadcast in Canada. I think Howard Stern is one of them, but I don't have Sirius so I can't verify. Is that censorship? I doubt it since we had Howard Stern's tv show here. Would you say it's censorship that the US won't allow chocolate bars such as Coffee Crisp, Mr. Big, or Caramilk either???

You could make a case for censorship of the US not having Robertson screws - but that's really not a government censorship issue but rather a patent issue.

Canada also does not allow speeding, theft or murder...all things that some may consider infringing on their personal right to express themselves? No - it's not called censorship then either. Breaking serious laws is something else.

I am against censorship, but this case is not censorship. Impersonating a government body should be an illegal activity and I do not think our freedom of rights stipulates "you have the right to impersonate a member or body of government and post made up news that can affect the citizens."

Otherwise you'd have sites saying "Hey citizens of Canada - we're the government and we say you no longer have to pay your taxes - and it's official because we are the government. Just look at our URL, it look real right?"

Spoofing Obama on SNL is one thing, but setting up a website designed to look like the US government and propogate realistically looking false information is something else entirely.


Alberta Oil Sands
By chmilz on 12/31/2009 1:07:32 PM , Rating: 5
165% increase in the oilsands carbon output is only 1-2% of the entire country. We can increase carbon output in our energy sector while reducing our overall carbon output, thank you very much. Ancient manufacturing tech in Ontario and Quebec can be upgraded to modern standards to greatly reduce our emissions.

Also consider the quarter million jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars the oil sands in Alberta add to our economy.

Grow a brain, jacka##.




hmm
By Soulkeeper on 12/31/2009 12:12:01 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno if I would consider this censorship exactely.

They were posing as the government and making fake press releases.
Sounds more like a government shutting down a company for false advertisement, or a knock-off drug company selling their fake products under another company's name and being shut down.




RE: hmm
By jRaskell on 12/31/2009 12:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
I explicitely do NOT consider this censorship.

Outright lies and intentionally malicious misinformation does not fall under freedom of speech.

The Yes Men are just a couple of glorifyied cyber terrorists, eschewing any semblance of decency under the guise of the end justifying the means.

And frankly, it's only slightly less despicable that anyone would even try to portray this as censorship.


Poor, poor, research
By amalcontent on 1/1/2010 2:53:26 AM , Rating: 3
"(claiming to support emissions reductions while secretly brokering emissions increases)"

Do your homework. A 165% increase in Oil Sands emissions is for one industry. It doesn't reflect the emission levels of Canada on its overall CO2 production. Canada has committed to a 20% reduction of CO2 compared to 2005 levels. A commitment very similar to the USA.

"the Canadian government will invariably be taking some heat over this gratuitous display of internet censorship in coming weeks."

The Canadian government isn't interested in censorship. Your assertion is nonsense. The websites in question try very hard to impersonate being valid Government web sites. I'm certain there would be/will not be any 'censorship' if the URL's aren't specifically meant to decieve.

Freedom of speech is alive and well in Canada.

The author of this article should be embarassed.




Fact Check?
By mmntech on 12/31/2009 12:36:26 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't in any of the Canadian newspapers AFAIK. Something like this would definitely be on the front page of the Toronto Star.




What is this bull****?
By aitwith on 1/2/2010 5:13:38 PM , Rating: 2
Let's write an article about utterly terrible the news writing and reporting has been recently on Dailytech due to a certain reporter, and how Dailytech will be firing/laying off said reporter in the near future. Post that article on a similarly named website (such as www.daily-tech.com) for the world to see.

Dailytech better not dare to request that site be taken down, that would be censorship!




Just because of this article
By Hieyeck on 1/4/2010 2:03:06 AM , Rating: 2
I will chop down and set fire to 10 trees.




Misinterpretation
By TallCoolOne on 1/5/2010 3:15:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
make every effort to prevent any further attempts concerning other environment-related domains (enviro, ec-gc, etc.) originating from your servers.


I would put the blame on the ISP for what's clearly a misinterpretation of the request from Mike Landreville. He had requested the 2 Yes Men hoax sites be removed and that further hoax attempts be removed from environment-related sites on that ISP, NOT simply remove all the sites!




More bull*@*# from mick
By icanhascpu on 1/5/2010 4:49:58 PM , Rating: 2
Id be more annoyed with Mick and his stupidity, but I started to look at him like you would one of those "journalists" making those tabloids that the Earth will be eaten by lizard monsters come 2012!

One you have a clownface on mick, it becomes much more reasonable!




By LadronesMentira on 1/1/2010 9:10:02 PM , Rating: 1
From Commmentator Weatherman David:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78schxZ7vZY

***




I think most of you are missing the point...
By splatter85 on 12/31/09, Rating: -1
By mdogs444 on 12/31/2009 1:36:42 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I think most of you are missing the point...

quote:
It needs to be done soon, otherwise your children are going to be left with an unfixable planet with no way off.

We're not missing the point. We just don't buy your fanatical alarmist words. I don't believe there is anything in bad shape, nor do I believe the planet is in peril. In fact, there is nothing to fix in my opinion, because I do not believe that man is responsible for the ever changing climate of the past millions and millions of years. The amount of people who believe the same thing that I do is increasing, whether you wish to accept that or not. The amount of people who see this whole debacle as nothing more than tax schemes, social engineering, and the expansion into a bigger/world government is growing.


RE: I think most of you are missing the point...
By JDHack42 on 12/31/2009 2:23:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What about Canada lying to its people...


Oh like no gov't has lied to their people before...


RE: I think most of you are missing the point...
By gmyx on 12/31/2009 4:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What about Canada lying to its people...
It's the Conservatives: they lie all the time - more than other parties.


By amalcontent on 1/1/2010 2:56:55 AM , Rating: 2
Nice drive-by smearing. Of course, there are no examples given to support your assertion.

An appropriate reply for a horribly written article...


By JediJeb on 1/8/2010 11:12:23 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
We need to figure out technology now to keep things running the way they are,


So instead of allowing the Earth to undergo its natural cycles we should instead artifically control the climate so that it best suits our needs?

Sounds like you are completely against nature, because this would be far more invasive to the natural world than what emissions we are producing now. If you look at the entire history of the Earth's climate you will see that the last few thousand years have been pretty optimal for human civilization to grow but are not representative of the high and low extremes that our climate can and will swing to. We should be spending more effort on learning how to adapt to what nature will eventually throw at us than trying to hold the climate into the comfortable norm we think it should be.

We build cities below sea level then complain when we can no longer hold back the sea. We build on the side of cliffs and then complain when the cliff breaks off. We build on the slopes of a volcano and complain when it erupts. We build in a desert and complain there is no water. We build in a swamp and complain about too much water.

I read somewhere that the whole population of the Earth if standing next to each other in 2X2 meter sqares of space would barely cover a few counties of a state in the US. When you think of how small a space that is compared to the entire world, it shows just how little true influence we have on the planet. Don't get me wrong, we should not just pollute with reckless abandon, we should work to minimize our total footprint in the environment. But to think humans are the driving force of the whole environment is nothing but pure arrogance, and to believe we can control it is nothing but a complete power trip our world leaders like to indulge in so they feel important.


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