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Is GoDaddy acting like Big Brother with Paknationalists.com Updated

Mon, 17th January 2011, 20:12

It is being reported in the media that Web hosting provider Go Daddy ordered the removal of a controversial article that included the name of a former CIA agent in Pakistan.

In the first week of January, Go Daddy presented PakNationalists.com (redirects to ahmedquraishi.com) with an ultimatum, threatening the webmasters that they "either remove the content" or they could move their website to another Web host in 48 hours.

On 3 January, the American company gave the Pakistani website 48 hours to comply, and allegedly pulled the site down on 5 January. “Please be aware that this decision to remove the content is final, and is not up for debate,” said an email by the Abuse Department at GoDaddy.com

Jonathan Banks

The article discussed the potential court case against former CIA Islamabad station chief Jonathan Banks, who was accused of being behind the allegedly illegal drone attacks on areas of Pakistan.

Since Banks was allegedly in Pakistan on a business visa he does not have diplomatic immunity from prosecution. The CIA reportedly pulled Banks from Islamabad after he received death threats. Although the story was picked up by many large media outlets around the world, including several US websites, Go Daddy only ordered the Pakistanian site to take down the article.

A number of media outlets are reporting that the article was removed on January 5th but can still be viewed courtesy of the Google cache. You can also see the offending article from PakNationalists here.

"We inquired as to who could have made this complaint," said Gulpari Nazish Mehsud, a volunteer with PakNationalists. "The US company won't give us a name, but it doesn't take a genius to guess who is making the complaint."

A whois search shows the domain is still hosted with Go-Daddy and the site is live. Go figure! HostJury has sent an invitation for the webmaster of PakNationalists.com to clarify the facts as well as review their web hosting experiences with GoDaddy.

Update: response from Ahmad Quraishi, editor of PakNationalist

The site was reactivated after we removed the article on CIA and Jonathan Banks. The site remained down for six days and no amount of communication with godaddy.com helped.

They reactivated the site as soon as the article was removed. We've contacted their legal department and are discussing restoring the removed material because the same material continues to be hosted on major websites hosted in the US. This raises the specter of discrimination against us, and abuse by GoDaddy.com of its own ToS.

We were given 48 hours to remove the content, on 3 January, 2011.  As our offices were closed between 25 Dec and 8 Jan for the New Year holidays, we got the email on 9th, too late.

We protested this. We also protested the fact that this was no way of dealing with a client of three years. We also host, and manages several other domains linked to our business with godaddy.com

Our argument was that on urgent matters, you could use our emergency telephone number in their record, especially before taking an extreme step like pulling down a client's website, and that too on a frivolous reason that has nothing to do with Terms of Agreement. end

Ahmad Quraishi also linked to his personal blog for more details. Here he makes a number of valid statements including:

The discrimination shows deliberate targeting of PakNationalists.com, a Pakistani news website critical of US government and CIA policies in Pakistan and the region. The site is run by volunteers in Islamabad but uses the services of a US hosting company.

"Please note that the very same material," says the letter by PakNationalists.com to the American firm, 'is hosted in the United States by Google's blogger.com, where this post is published, titled: The Great Escape Of Jonathan Banks. No one has asked to remove this content [...] Also, Wikipedia has a full dedicated page titled, Jonathan Banks (CIA officer). This page is hosted by a US hosting company. No one has asked to remove it." end
 

HostJury will continue to update this story as information becomes available.

Whois


Domain Name: AHMEDQURAISHI.COM
Registrar: GODADDY.COM, INC.
Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com
Name Server: NS41.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Name Server: NS42.DOMAINCONTROL.COm
Status: ok
Updated Date: 12-jan-2011
Creation Date: 18-dec-2005
Expiration Date: 18-dec-2013

Domain Name: PAKNATIONALISTS.COM
Registrar: GODADDY.COM, INC.
Whois Server: whois.godaddy.com
Referral URL: http://registrar.godaddy.com
Name Server: NS29.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Name Server: NS30.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientRenewProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 14-sep-2008
Creation Date: 14-sep-2008
Expiration Date: 14-sep-2013