At 4.13 yesterday afternoon, the Internet Service Providers Association advised CapeInfo that our complaint regarding offensive statements on the site, whalecottage.com, had been forwarded to Whale Cottage’s service provider for action.
The first step in the take down process usually takes 24 to 48 hours, but it was handled by the ISPA in about two hours. Maybe that stems from the gravity of the situation or the large number of take down requests from various members of the public against Whale Cottage, since CapeInfo publicised the take down process in this blog.
There is going to be keen interest in Chris von Ulmenstein’s Whale Cottage blog and her service provider, Hetzner, who have to decide on the action to be taken.
Hetzner screwed up badly when they took down Martin Hatchuel’s This Tourism Week after a complaint by Chris von Ulmenstein. Hetzner have admitted that they did not follow correct process before taking the site down but now they want Hatchuel to indemnify them from any actions that may arise from this. It beggars belief! Read their email to Hatchuel here.
Von Ulmenstein now has a day or two to decide what to do.
Is this censorship? No, it’s not. Complaints to the ISPA are based on “unlawful content” – libel, dishonesty, etc. Society has laws and processes to protect the community from bad people.
Von Ulmenstein has already conceded that what she wrote about me is unlawful by removing one defamatory and libelous statement overnight.
I have submitted supplementary demands to Hetzner ([Abuse #20101123-G-268] complaint ##389 / Hetzner / Offensive Statements) that addresses the “unlawful content” in her entire article about me.
What are von Ulmenstein’s options? She can:
- remove specific content or blog posts, conceding that her actions have been unlawful. She has, in a minimal way, already done that.
- refuse to act further in which case her whole website, whalecottage.com, will be closed down within days.
- move her blog outside the jurisdiction of SA’s internet laws, which is what the infamous “Neil Watson” did with the libellous and scandalous crimeexposa.com. But that was closed down in the end too.
CapeInfo is examining legal options against von Ulmenstein. The knock on the door she’s expected for so long with the lawsuit may happen sooner than she thinks. There’s a big enough victims’ club out there for a class action!
Her fans will be dismayed and will rally to her support – they enjoy their daily soap opera. And Cape Town’s dinner parties and cyberspace will have less spicy gossip, but it will be so much saner and more constructive.
It appears that von Ulmenstein has chosen option 3 and is moving her website with the sole reason being to escape the jurisdiction of South Africa’s internet laws, specifically, the ECT Act.
On Friday I received the following notification from the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA):
“Resolution of complaint COC.#389 / Hetzner / Offensive Statements
“The client – whalecottage.com – has decided to terminate her hosting with Hetzner. She is in the process of moving her domain to a different hosting company.”
I queried a number of issues with ISPA, including whether the site should be taken down until that transfer is effected. ISPA’s response was:
“If they decide that they are willing to keep a site up while the site-owner arranges for it to be moved, they are entitled to do so (and potentially incur some legal risk in doing so). ISPA cannot compel anyone to take down a site — permanently or temporarily.”
I replied to ISPA’s official notification:
“This complaint is NOT resolved.
“Unlawful content is still on the internet at www.whalecottage.com which Hetzner continues to host at this time. I request that an Independent Adjudicator be speedily appointed in terms of your process where complaints are not resolved.
“I maintain that, by its actions, Hetzner has made a mockery of the ECT Act and now has legal liability for the unlawful content. I also question the fact that a legal process that is underway can be halted by moving – or indicating the intention to move – the web site in question out of the jurisdiction of South African Laws.”
On Sunday, www.whalecottage.com’s IP address was 188.8.131.52 which is held by Hetzner Online AG, located in Germany.
But a ‘whois’ search for www.whalecottage.com shows the following details:
So now one just has to wait for the appointment of the Independent Adjudicator and the outcome of that process.