Feeds

Blogosphere shouts 'I'm Spartacus' in Usmanov-Murray case

Uzbek billionaire prompts Blog solidarity

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Political websites have lined up in defence of a former diplomat whose blog was deleted by hosting firm Fasthosts after threats from lawyers acting for billionaire Arsenal investor Alisher Usmanov.

Four days after Fasthosts pulled the plug on the website run by former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray it remains offline. Several other political and freedom of speech blogs in the UK and abroad have picked up the gauntlet however, and reposted the article that originally drew the takedown demand.

The battle hit the mainstream media spotlight on Friday after the website of Tory London mayoral hopeful Boris Johnson was downed in the crossfire because it was hosted on the same server. At time of writing, it's also still offline.

The complaints against Murray's site arose after a series of allegations he made against Usmanov. Murray also included accusations against Usmanov in his 2006 book Murder in Samarkland, which is still available and being made into a film by Road to Guantanamo director Michael Winterbottom.

After being released from prison, and pardoned, Usmanov became one of a small group of oligarchs to make hay in the former USSR's post-communist asset carve-up. The Uzbek, 54, recently swooped to become a major shareholder at Arsenal and is thought to be worth almost £3bn.

On his behalf, libel law firm Schillings has moved against a number of Arsenal fan sites and political bloggers repeating the allegations.

Murray himself has had no contact with Schillings, and has invited Usmanov to sue him to test his claims in court. In the Google cache, he claims he was in an edit war with Fasthosts admins before the plug was finally pulled.

ISPs and webhosts are easy to strongarm on defamation because of the legal precedent set by Godfrey versus Demon Internet in 1999. That case saw the ISP ordered to pay £15,000 in damages for not removing comments in a newsgroup.

That decision has since been garnished by the 2002 European E-commerce directive regulations that provide hosts and ISPs with protection from liability under some circumstances. It means hosts are in the clear provided they comply with lawyers' demands promptly. Our partner site Out-law.com has a detailed guide here.

Fasthosts said Murray's account had been terminated according to industry standard practice. It refused to say why unrelated websites had been hit by the takedown, or say when they might reappear. Craig Murray has not yet responded to a request for comment. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.