Feeds

FBI goes Bonsai Kitten hunting

More like wild goose chase

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

The FBI is reported to be investigating BonsaiKitten.com, the spoof Web site which has got animal lovers and anti-cruelty campaigners in uproar.

The site was started last December by a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was soon booted off MIT's servers and then moved from host to host, with protesters following it every step of the way. It has found a permanent home at Rotten.com, which routinely hosts distasteful material.

Now the FBI's Boston field office has served MIT with a grand jury subpoena demanding information about who runs the site, according to a report on Wired.

The Bonsai Kitten domain name was registered to a Dr Michael Wong Chang in New York, presumably a fake name and address.

MIT lawyer Jeff Swope said the student would be notified of the subpoena, as required by federal law, and then the university would hand over the information.

It isn't yet known on what grounds the FBI is investigating the site. Assistant US attorney Nadine Pellegrini, who signed the MIT subpoena, is quoted only as saying: "I would assume there's a case, if there's a law, but I'm not making any comment."

It is a federal felony to possess "a depiction of animal cruelty", but only if there is an intention of commercial distribution over state lines.

Criminal defense attorney Harvey Silverglate said he expected the FBI to drop the case when invesitgators found Bonsai Kitten to be a joke.

He believes the FBI has been 'infected' by political correctness, saying: "They want to be the good guys. They massively run rampant over Americans' liberties but they want to be seen as nice fuzzy guys who want to protect kittens."

Last month the US Humane Society said there was no evidence of actual cruelty in the creation of BonsaiKitten.com, but that the site "depicts and encourages cat cruelty".

A spokeswoman for the Humane Society told Wired: "If the FBI is looking into this, that's great. Anything to discourage animal cruelty would be very helpful."

"It's totally promoting animal cruelty. They consider it a sick joke. People will take it seriously. Animal cruelty is not funny. Animal torture is not funny. We would like bonsaikitten.com to be removed permanently."

People on Bonsai Kitten discussion sites and animal welfare forums have posted responses from other animal welfare groups.

PETA said: "We appreciate your concern about this matter and agree that this type of Web site should be shut down. Although after looking into this Web site, we found it to be a 'joke,' we still feel that it is inappropriate and certainly not funny. Unfortunately, it is legal to operate such a Web site."

The ASPCA said: "We are also horrified by this and similar websites and videos advocating animal cruelty. While technology has made a positive contribution to our society, it has also resulted in the rapid expansion of publicity for individuals who promote animal abuse."

Meanwhile, the joke continues, with an announcement on BonsaiKitten.com seizing on research into brain-damaging parasites found in cat faeces.

"The keeping of unmodified cats puts people at risk of a host of debilitating mental disorders," warns the sales pitch.

"No doubt this explains the crank e-mail we sometimes receive!"

"Your mental health is one of the most precious gifts you have -- don't you owe it to yourself and your family to make the switch to a Bonsai Kitten today? As a public service in response to this newly-discovered health risk, for a limited time we will be offering free disposal of your dangerous old cat with each purchase of a Bonsai Kitten." ®

Related stories

Wired: FBI Goes After Bonsaikitten.com
Bonsai Kitten craze sweeps online world

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.