January 26, 2007 | By Derek Slater

Worst Practices for Online Service Providers

In an instant, Seclists.org, including thousands of pages, vanished from the Internet this week. And if your online service providers have as weak a backbone as GoDaddy, the same thing could happen to your site.

Here's the story (as recounted by News.com): A list of MySpace user names and passwords began floating around online weeks ago, including in a Seclists.org post and many other places online. Rather than ask the Seclists.org's owner, Fyodor Vaskovich, to remove a single offending page, MySpace wrote to his domain name registrar GoDaddy, which shut down all 250,000 Seclists.org pages.

Did GoDaddy demand to receive a court order first? Was it at any legal risk? No. Apparently all it took was a single informal request from MySpace, and Seclists.org was gone, a mere 52 seconds after GoDaddy notified Vaskovich.

"I think the fact that we gave him notice at all was pretty generous," said GoDaddy's general counsel Christine Jones, in what has to be in the running for most ironic comment of the week.

All too often, that's what passes for customer service when your free speech is at stake. Internet intermediaries owe their customers more than that. GoDaddy should have given Vaskovich meaningful notice, time, and information to respond, and it should have been willing to stand up for his rights.

Read the News.com article for more, and check out EFF's Best Practices for Online Service Providers for more on how companies like GoDaddy ought to behave.


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