The two websites concerned are Redwatch and Dadsplace.
Redwatch I have already written about. It is a site which aims to ‘out’ communists and identify them. As Richard S pointed out, the Brighton Argus featured a story about Sussex people featured on the site over the weekend.
Dadsplace, on the other hand, is a site devoted to criticising the Sunderland Housing Group – the housing association set up to manage what used to be Sunderland Council’s housing stock.
Angela Eagle MP is supporting the campaign which is trying to get the Redwatch site closed down as it is basically not only promoting hatred but encourages violence towards those ‘reds’ it identifies. (Its not too late to join the campaign by the way). So far there has not been much success, as the site is registered in the US, although everyone involved is based in the UK.
Actually thats not completely true. They have .org and .net domains registered in the UK, but also the .co.uk domain which is obviously registered here. The contents are mirrored across all the domains. The .co.uk one is registered to “White Nationalist Party” care of a PO box in Hull. According to whois.co.uk this is a UK Individual… strange name for an individual. I would have thought the anomalies there would be sufficient to get the .co.uk domain closed if nothing else.
Meanwhile, I went to visit Dadsplace earlier to check up on developments there and found that it had gone. The site now consists of just a single screen with a link to the owner’s personal blog. It appears that either the Sunderland Housing Group or Sunderland Council have successfully got the courts to shut the site down.
Just a couple of comments on this:
- A local council, albeit a large one, can manage to get a site closed down because it criticises one of their policies, even though it was hosted in the US.
- The Home Office cannot close a site which incites violence, promotes hatred and violates privacy, even when an MP from the government is actively promoting the campaign against it, and a .co.uk domain contains all the material.
It is just as worrying that the closure of Dadsplace has not been mentioned in the media, at least not in those parts which I read. I tried a search on both the BBC and Guardian websites and found nothing, although I am sure this week’s Private Eye will cover it There are a few blogs and forums which have mentioned it, but the ‘real’ media are apparently ignoring the whole thing. I would not have known that it had gone if I had not tried to visit it. That cannot be right.
You can’t throw a stone in media-land without hitting a story about Internet censorship in China and the compliance of firms like Yahoo! and Google in such things, but the closure of a website in the US about social housing in the North-East of England gets overlooked.
Now I don’t know enough about the whole SHG affair to know all the rights and wrongs, and you have to be careful since the courts have decided that it was illegal, but surely there is a legitimate right to criticise one’s local council? The site can still be seen on Google’s caches and whatever else it is doing it is not inciting violence.
Above all, the forced closure of a site in this way should be newsworthy. We should not have to wait for Private Eye or The Ministry Of Truth to tell us all about it.