Feeds

Did Bahraini activists closet anti-gay bus baron?

Controversial knight pays the price of freedom

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A theory has emerged as to just how the personal website of controversial bus millionaire Brian Souter came to be stuffed deep into Google's closet of invisibility. It appears that the (probably inadvertent) culprits may have been a group of Bahraini freedom fighters.

It's possible that the activists torpedoed the Stagecoach co-founder's website accidentally - as a by-product of their attempts to sidestep their government's web snooping and blocking. SEO expert Yousaf Sekander theorises as much in a blog post. Reg readers on Twitter had similar suspicions.

Sir Brian - who drew criticism in 2000 for backing the Section 28 ban on schools promoting homosexuality to kids - was left fuming after his personal site was inexplicably dumped from Google results for "Brian Souter". His PR team accused the Chocolate Factory of censorship and are threatening to bring the case to the UK Parliament for investigation.

But the closeting of Sir Brian may well be the inadvertent work of a Bahraini activist, rather than any equal rights champion within the Googleplex.

Our investigation was triggered after the bus knight's PR spotted an unofficial copy of briansouter.com cropping up at www.briansouter.com.14feb-youth.com. Sekhander told us it's likely that this dodgy duplicate has enraged Google's web spiders, which punish websites that carry identical content on different URLs.

One man's freedom fighter is another man's search engine headache

14feb-youth.com supports the Bahraini youth movement and serves as a censorship-dodging proxy: you can visit other sites by simply popping the web address in front of .14feb-youth.com like this: www.bbc.co.uk.14feb-youth.com.

Presumably this lets repressed netizens in Bahrain bypass their government's internet ban on particular URLs. As far as Google is concerned, anyone linking to a .14feb-youth.com URL creates a duplicate site and someone must have done this to Sir Stagecoach's website, Sekhander suggests.

Bahrain, along with Russia and Turkey, is listed as a country where web users are under surveillance - according to a report by Reporters Without Borders.

Why Bahrainis - or persons elsewhere - were looking up the personal website of an anti-gay bus baron via 14feb-youth.com is still clouded in mystery. ®

Bootnote

Meanwhile, we note that briansouter.com has now moved up to the No. 2 spot in the Google results for Brian Souter.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Thirteen Astonishing True Facts You Never Knew About SCREWS
Threaderick the Great! And YES, we asked the Arapaho
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Too rich for an iPhone 6? How about a gold-plated Brikk?
Not lobbed at your head, silly – a bling phone
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.