The US has a way to shut down Wikileaks, the infamous SDN list

Could the SDN list be the best censorship tool for websites?

You may not know what the SDN list (Specially Designated Nationals) is but we´ll explain. It’s the US version of Iran and Chinas state censorship machine. Initially created with good intent to inform the world (and US entities, persons) of Terrorists, Rogue regimes and other wrongdoers. It slowly converted into a censorship list to block free speech on the Internet. You see, by adding a website to the list the U.S authorities could then evoke a closure order on the registrar where the domain is registered. Of course, if it’s a .com or .org then the US can evoke the said closure order anywhere in the world via ICANN. So while the US is feverishly trying to find a way to censor WIKILEAKS then maybe they should allege that Julian Assange works for say Cuba or Iran? No burden proof is required, just the need to “allege”. However crazy it may seem to free speech supporting Americans, there´s no congressional hearing, judge or Supreme Court needed here. Simply get OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) to fabricate the claim, type the name into the list and Voila! Another US Censored website.

In 2006 the US censored a series of Cuba websites. Some with benign propaganda about the deceased American writer Ernest Hemingway www.Cuba-Hemingway.com while others preyed into the apparently dark and mysterious www.CubanCulture.com . The latter may have been added to the list because of the brief article on the locally active black magic and covert babalawos?

Shutting down the websites then became easy work. A quick call from a Government office to the US based Enom and ICANN and the sites were “disappeared” from worldwide viewing. Gone…Two years and counting

When, in 2008, the British owner of the domains claimed foul play, the US offered a consoling response “the owner can appeal to be removed from the list”. An appeal was immediately lodged but the US Gov is, for once in recent history, silent until this present day.

Not even Hillary Clinton could remember that the US has over 60 websites on the censorship list during her speech on January the 21st 2010 when she deplored Iran and China for shutting down websites.

This brings us back to Julian Assange and his current skirmish with the US over the WIKILEAKS website. The easiest way to shut down Wikileaks would obviously be to add the site to the SDN list as the US Judicial system is not required for it to do its trick of censorship. Surely a Photoshop specialist in Langley could easily manage a quick image of Ahmadinejad or Raul Castro with Julian to appease free speech activists? Maybe Julian has, at sometime in the past, taken vacation to Cuba which would certainly be the damning proof required to claim he was in cohorts with the Cuban Military, no? In the case of the domains censored in 2006, all that was needed was that the US governments “claim” that the domains were owned by the Cuban government. Obviously, nobody in the State Department knew how to do a whois search at the time. Even today, the domain names show the same owner as in 2006, the Cuban Government being conspicuously absent then and now from ICANN official records.

If Wikileaks could be taken offline for over three years as the numerous websites added to the SDN list have, then the US problem would invariably “go away”,  almost over night. Julian could then appeal and get one of these letters, then hear nothing, all the while his website is shutdown.

Good luck Julian! Censorship is not as hard to escape as you think, even in the land of free speech…

New York Times Article

The article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

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