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
Drunkards warned: If you can't walk in a straight line, don't shop online, you fool!
Put it away boys. Cover them up ladies. Your credit cards, we mean
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Murder accused DIDN'T ask Siri 'how to hide my roommate'
US court hears of cached browser image - not actual request
Cops baffled by riddle of CHICKEN who crossed ROAD
'Officers were unable to determine Chicken's intent'
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty
Sales of traditional brekkie foods soar as hungry folk get their mitts greasy
Nuts to your poncey hipster coffees, I want a TESLA ELECTRO-CAFE
Examining the frothy disconnect in indie cafe culture
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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.