It's not unusual for major web sites to disappear without explanation, but when two social service sites went down within days of each other in mysterious circumstances, alarm bells started ringing.
Cnet News reported yesterday that blogging platform Blogetry.com and message board service Ipbfree.com had vanished from the face of the Internet without trace. And although the two cases were apparently unrelated, there were some worrying similarities which could have serious implications for anyone setting up sites with user-generated content.
In both cases there were initially suggestions that the sites had run afoul of copyright laws, but a site administrator has since denied that this is the case.
The blogging site's ISP told Cnet that the site had been closed at the request of a law enforcement agency but would not disclose which one, saying, "I can't tell you anything about it. Sorry, I'm bound to this secret by law."
So there's a secretive law enforcement agency operating in America with the power to close down Internet sites without due process or a court order and those affected are running so scared that they won't even protest.
Both sites say they complied with copyright laws as set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the report states that "executives terminated service at the direction of a law enforcement agency."
We're willing to take a stab that Homeland Security has its fingers in this particular pie and that both sites were shut down under 'anti-terrorism' laws which seem to be flexible enough to allow the agency to do whatever the hell it wants to do, whenever it wants to do it.
Land of the free indeed.