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Monday, May 18

Blogging in the big bad world

This stuff happened in October 2006. I couldn't blog about it at the time, but I think enough time has now passed to put this online. It was printed in a computer magazine - Micro Mart. This is a rework of what I wrote back then.

 

Blog and Forget

When I write about blogging, I usually emphasise how easy it can be to publish your thoughts. This is what has made blogging such a killer app, and these tools have givenordinary people an easy route into the freedom of speech that the largely unregulated internet provides. However, as a result, it is very easy to blog something and then forget about it - it’s the work of a few seconds - and I’m in the category of self-indulgent bloggers who uses my webspace as a handy brain dump.

 

Generally, there is no harm in dumping random thoughts on a blog. After all, how many people read low profile blogs like mine? Virtually nobody, I’m sure. Of those who do, how many take it seriously? I certainly don’t. I occasionally read back over old articles and either chuckle along or find myself boring. That’s blogging.

 

However, a lot of blogs are indexed by Google, and they can be read by anyone. If you make a defamatory remark on your blog, then the subject of that remark has the right to take legal action. Of course, they’d have to find out about it. For some reason, though, my website ranks above average on Google, so when I write something it’s often quite easy to findGenerally speaking, I’ve had few problems, and I usually react positively to any feedback I receive. However, I was surprised by the ferocity of the backlash concerning a recent blog entry.

 

An Unsolicited Email

In early October, I received an email offering me a job. The mail was addressed to me personally and claimed to be a response to my CV, which I posted on Monster.co.uk back in November 2005. The job offer looked highly suspect. I did not reply, but I blogged the email and my reaction:

 

A Monster Offer

Amazing!

 

Hello Ashley Frieze,

 

We have found your resume at Monster.co.uk and we would like to offer you a job. It is a part-time job that consists of receiving payments from customers (through bank transfers) and then making further payments to our main office or to one of our regional affiliated departments, depending on the customer's location.

 

Your commission as an agent is 6% of each transaction. For example, if you receive 2000 GBP to your bank account, you will withdraw the money and keep 120 GBP for yourself. Your salary will be approximately 24000 GBP per year. The hours for this work are flexible and can be combined with any permanent or other part-time job, with an average workload of up to 10 hours a week. All additional money transfer and money transfer-related charges are covered and paid for by our company. Therefore you'll only be responsible for making the proper payments in time (i.e. within 48 hrs of successful receipt into your account). Each transaction will be transferred only after prior notification, which will sometimes be a notification by phone call.

 

Our company's principal business is based on a business model that heavily employs all the latest internet technologies. Asecco is one of only a few companies that uses regional representatives in its business operations. This avoids high foreign taxation and cross-board acquisition fees. If you are interested in our offer, please feel free to ask for details of the general provisions of the contract. Our e-mail address is: hr@asecco-ltd.net

 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Best regards,

Rita Ott

HR Department

Asecco Limited


Allow me to rephrase.

 

Dear Potential Mug,

 

Please help us with our scam/money laundering scheme.

 

Ah go on.

 

You know you're greedy.

 

Lots of love

 

Some Criminals


As far as I was concerned, this was a ridiculous and obviously dodgy job offer, and I chose to make fun of it with my summary of that email and the countless others in the catalogue of get-rich-quick emails I’ve seen over the years.

 

Hitting the Roof

As I mentioned earlier, I forget a blog entry as soon as it is written, and I also tend to ignore the fact that Google indexes my blog. As a result, I was slightly surprised when I received this email.

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

Date: 10th October 2006

 

 Hello,

 Please remove any reference to our company from your page http://www.incredible.org.uk/index.php3?p=2004_07_01_archive.html

 

Best regards,

Erich Meier

Support Team

Asecco Capital Investment Ltd

www.asecco-ltd.com

 

Childishly, in the manner a playground fight, my first reaction was not to retract my comment. I decided to see what I was up against. This is the email equivalent of “Says who!?”

 

From: Ashley Frieze

To: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

 

Please explain why you emailed me in the first place, and who you are. I believe I am within my rights to publish the unsolicited email you sent me and then satirise it.

 

Regards

 

Ashley Frieze

 

I was curious. How could they know about my blog? And who were they? Why do they use an EarthLink account for their correspondence? More importantly, could they sue me? The answer to the first question came when I tried to answer the second. My blog entry had become the top hit on Google for their company. Aside from my suggestion that they were criminals, there was little written about them online.

 

I should have checked Google...



 

I re-read my comments and decided that if this were a genuine company, then my actions looked fairly damning. I had accused them of being criminals and money launderers. This was hardly the most tactful thing to have done and they had a right to be genuinely aggrieved if they were, in fact, legitimate. The email chain which followed gave me a clearer picture of what I was dealing with.

 

Fight Fight Fight Fight

While driving home from work, pondering whether I should expect a solicitor’s letter, I received a few emails in succession. First:

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

 

 Hello,

 You subscribed to Monster service and as we already mentioned we have found your resume at Monster.co.uk and we offer you a job, you can visit our site for more details. As we can guess you decline our offer, in this case we will never email you again. But we asking to  remove our company name from your page.

 

Best regards,

Erich Meier

Support Team

Asecco Capital Investment Ltd

www.asecco-ltd.com

 

If I had received a genuine offer of a job, then my job interview technique truly sucks. However, 30 minutes later:

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

 

 Hello,

 Can you just replace our company name with anything you wish? Your assistance will be much appreciated

 

Best regards,

Erich Meier

Support Team

Asecco Capital Investment Ltd

www.asecco-ltd.com

 

And five minutes after that:

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

 

Hello,

 We believe that this is very funny, but we really don't have time for this. Please just change Asecco to anything you wish. We absolutely don't have any wishes to shut down your hosting, but there is no other way.

 

Many thanks for your co-operation,

Best regards,

Erich Meier

Support Team

Asecco Capital Investment Ltd

www.asecco-ltd.com

 

So, in schoolyard bully style, they seemed to be suggesting that they would shut my website down if I didn’t comply. I immediately started to wonder why they were so desperate to control the content of my site and why a 40 minute car journey home, during which I was not replying to emails, had provoked so many comments from them. We could agree on one thing, though: my comment about their offer was funny. However, I didn’t like the idea of receiving veiled threats.

 

From: Ashley Frieze

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

 

Are you threatening to shut down my hosting?

 

Regards

 

Ashley Frieze


Which prompted the following:

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

 

 Hello,

 We don't threatening you, your site already down. We asking you once again, please remove Asecco name from you page, or just change it to anything else.

 

Best regards,

Erich Meier

Support Team

Asecco Capital Investment Ltd

www.asecco-ltd.com

 

The veil was removed (that should appeal to the French). Not only were they telling me to change it “or else” but they were claiming to have already shut my site down. The site was working fine at my end, and I assumed that this was just scare tactics. By this stage, they were sending their emails to me at several of my email accounts simultaneously. The mails were in broken English from someone who didn’t appear to be from inside this Asecco company (using a normal ISP account, rather than a company domain). Why would the “Support Team” be more like the “Intimidation Group”? This whole thing looked a bit like a wind-up. Even if it wasn’t, I was starting to consider my freedom to take the mickey out of them a matter of principledecided to get them to explain their position in terms of the applicable law, rather than with vague strong-arm posturing.

 

Upping the Stakes

I think that it was this email which was the straw to their camel’s back:

 

From: Ashley Frieze

To: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

 

Dear Erich,

 

I do not plan to remove Asecco's name from my website. I am reporting accurately that you sent me an email offering a scheme which I consider to be unusual. If you wish, I will happily include a comment from you, for the sake of balance, on why this is a perfectly legitimate scheme and legal under UK law.

 

I also intend to publish this entire email conversation as well. It seems that you are very keen to have Asecco's name removed from a personal blogging site that virtually nobody reads. This strikes me as odd. Perhaps you would like to explain what the problem is and why you consider it worth requesting that I change my website's contents for you.

 

As for shutting down my site, you are perfectly entitled to complain to my internet service provider, but at the moment, I cannot see the basis for your complaint. The site remains functional. As a UK owned site, hosted in the UK, you would have to have a basis in UK law for making such a complaint.

 

I consider your original email to be unsolicited as, although you searched Monster to find my email address, you came to me with a job offer totally unrelated to my CV and job sector. It would appear to me, from experience, that several other people, also listed on Monster, also received an identical email, offering a scheme very similar looking to the Nigerian 419 email scam. Though it's perfectly possible that you are offering something legitimate, I am a firm believer that jobs which look too good to be true are worth being wary of. Having read your website, I'm left uncertain of what exactly your company does and whether the UK financial service authorities would approve.

 

Perhaps you would like to explain.

 

Regards

 

Ashley Frieze

 

There I was, striking a blow for freedom of speech and for the little guy. Go me. The following email was a bit of a blow in return.

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

 

 This all very sad, but why you looking for confrontation? We ask you just replace Asecco name... Your hosting is down now (maybe not from UK),  also we will spam CHILD PORNO from all your domains and email addresses tomorrow... So all your emails and domains will be closed. Do you wish this? We don't need all this as well... But there is no other way if you don't assist us... So we deal?

 

Hold on one second. What just happened? Did he claim again to have shut down my site? How? More importantly, was he genuinely suggesting that he would pretend to be me and send out illegal content in my name? Ultimately, was it worth the risk? I chose the answer no. I was never really that good with schoolyard bullying when I was at school.

 

Their request that I remove their name from my site was fairly small. I could still have my fun and avoid the risk of being implicated in child pornography. I’ll explain later whyI considered this a sensible decision. I emailed back to explain that I’d make the changes the following day.

 

Real Damage

On my return to a computer screen the following morning, I found emails from good old Erich. He’s the guy whom Asecco clearly calls upon to sort stuff out, and he’d managed to get a result from me. Here’s how he celebrated his success:

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

 

Many thanks for your co-operation.

 

And then, six hours later:

 

From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net>

To: Ashley Frieze

 

 Your site must be online shortly. We are really apologize for any inconvenience caused.

 

You’ve got to hand it to Erich – he’s a polite winner, and he likes to keep in touch, even when I’ve not replied since his last mail. I found it odd that he was acting like he had really taken my site down, especially since I’d seen no evidence of this the previous evening, though had noticed that it was running slowly. I pondered his options for shutting down my site without complaining to my ISP. Option one is to somehow destroyor alter the DNS entry for the site, so others around the world cannot find it by name. This would be very difficult to do for more than a small section of the internet. Option two is to somehow bring down the server hosting my site. I pondered whether he might have attempted to do that, especially since it had been running slowly the previous evening.

 

Then I discovered that my site was no longer online.

 

As I looked at my hosting company’s support web page to find out about how to contact them, I noticed that they were showing a DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attack on their logs from the previous evening at about the time Erich claimed he’d taken my site down. Surely this was some sort of coincidence?

 

Calling my hosting support line I found out that they’d been the subject of an unprecedented DDOS attack. Several hundred computers from all over the internet had been retrieving web pages constantly and sending random data to their server. Would you like to guess which domain it was all directed at? Mine? Correct. Your prize is 6% of whatever I put in your bank account.

 

So, from a throwaway blog comment, and a few flippant emails, things had escalated to pure internet anarchy. Once my site was put back online (the DDOS was under control) I was able to remove Asecco’s name from my blog.

 

Freedom of Speech vs Inconvenience

I like to think of myself as fairly pragmatic. While at first I was adamant that I wouldn’t be silenced by someone unless they could present to me a specific point under civil law which compelled me to change my stance, I quickly changed my tune when threatened with something big enough. Freedom of speech is always worth defending in the abstract, but it can come at a price. If people are operating within the law, and you are publishing something lawful, then there’s nothing to worry about. At the point when they start to threaten with site hacking and child porn scandals, I think it’s reasonable to weigh up the pros and cons.

 

On the one hand, I still think I made an amusing comment on my site. I like to post scam emails in case people, receiving a similar mail, decide to Google its text – if they find that they’re not the only person set to receive Dr. Karibe Dangogo’s fortune, they may think twice before paying the admin fees to release it. However, I know what tools are available to the malicious internet expert, and I could see how easy it would be to find myself the subject of an extensive and embarrassing investigation from well-intentioned local authorities. Though I believed was in the right, my low profile blog is not the place to fight such battles.

 

If I am honest I think I might be stirring up the hornet's nest with this... But it is still fascinating...


Asecco-Ltd.Com

In the early stages of this ordeal, I had wondered whether Asecco might be a legitimate company. When they first complained I worried that I might be about to receive a letter from their UK solicitor following blog entry calling them criminals. Later on, Iwondered whether Erich with his EarthLink account might be a random hacker, unrelated to the apparenrly real Swiss Investments Company that Asecco’s website describes.

 

Following further research it is clear that Asecco is totally made up. They claim to have been set up in 1997, which is odd since their site was first registered in 2006. Their poorly worded website makes some odd claims and refers to companies and schemes that do not exist. It soon became clear that Asecco is one of a family of scam websites.

 

Back in May 2006, a number of people posted complaints about Arecco-Ltd.com. Google “arecco ltd” and you will find a similar email to the one I received. You will also find them listed on various 419 scam and fake bank websites (see the Online Scams box). So, they began as Arecco, then Asecco. What next? Atecco?

 

Actually, Atecco-ltd.com was registered the day after my DDOS attack. I suppose that it spoiled the reputation of the totally made up Asecco Ltd when the first hit on Google was my blog entry, giving the game away. Their own site didn’t even make the first page!

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that any investment bank would ever pay a member of the public 6% to perform a transaction that regular banks charge 0.25% for. I also don’t think that they’d use hackers as their enforcement team. I have no doubts. Asecco Ltd is not a bona fide organisation.

 

Final Thought

While blogging can be a write-and-forget process, annoying people involved in organised crime may not be ideal unless you are doing it anonymously from a server big enough that it cannot be shut down. Even if you are dealing with people who operate within the law, what you publish online does have an effect on the real world. If you publish something libellous or defamatory, then you and your ISP may find yourselves the subject of litigation. Your ISP is unlikely to support your right to freedom of speech if the stakes are that high.

 

If you are going to start a blog, and I recommend you do, then you need not worry too much, so long as what you write is true. If someone gets in touch and ask you to change what you wrote about them, perhaps reach a compromise quickly, rather than provoke them into action… unless you’re in the right, in which case let us know how you get on.


A Monster Offer<end OF TITLE> Amazing! <indicate START OF EMAIL> Hello Ashley Frieze, We have found your resume at Monster.co.uk and we would like to offer you a job. It is a part-time job that consists of receiving payments from customers (through bank transfers) and then making further payments to our main office or to one of our regional affiliated departments, depending on the customer's location. Your commission as an agent is 6% of each transaction. For example, if you receive 2000 GBP to your bank account, you will withdraw the money and keep 120 GBP for yourself. Your salary will be approximately 24000 GBP per year. The hours for this work are flexible and can be combined with any permanent or other part-time job, with an average workload of up to 10 hours a week. All additional money transfer and money transfer-related charges are covered and paid for by our company. Therefore you'll only be responsible for making the proper payments in time (i.e. within 48 hrs of successful receipt into your account). Each transaction will be transferred only after prior notification, which will sometimes be a notification by phone call. Our company's principal business is based on a business model that heavily employs all the latest internet technologies. Asecco is one of only a few companies that uses regional representatives in its business operations. This avoids high foreign taxation and cross-board acquisition fees. If you are interested in our offer, please feel free to ask for details of the general provisions of the contract. Our e-mail address is: hr@asecco-ltd.net We look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Rita Ott HR Department Asecco Limited <end OF EMAIL> Allow me to rephrase. <start OF EMAIL> Dear Potential Mug, Please help us with our scam/money laundering scheme. Ah go on. You know you're greedy. Lots of love Some Criminals <end OF EMAIL> <end OF BLOG> As far as I was concerned, this was a ridiculous and obviously dodgy job offer, and I chose to make fun of it with my summary of that email and the countless others in the catalogue of get-rich-quick emails I’ve seen over the years. Hitting the Roof As I mentioned earlier, I forget a blog entry as soon as it is written, and I also tend to ignore the fact that Google indexes my blog. As a result, I was slightly surprised when I received this email. <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze Date: 10th October 2006 Hello, Please remove any reference to our company from your page http://www.incredible.org.uk/index.php3?p=2004_07_01_archive.html Best regards, Erich Meier Support Team Asecco Capital Investment Ltd www.asecco-ltd.com <end OF EMAIL> Childishly, in the manner a playground fight, my first reaction was not to retract my comment. I decided to see what I was up against. This is the email equivalent of “Says who!?” <email> From: Ashley Frieze To: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> Please explain why you emailed me in the first place, and who you are. I believe I am within my rights to publish the unsolicited email you sent me and then satirise it. Regards Ashley Frieze <end OF EMAIL> I was curious. How could they know about my blog? And who were they? Why do they use an EarthLink account for their correspondence? More importantly, could they sue me? The answer to the first question came when I tried to answer the second. My blog entry had become the top hit on Google for their company. Aside from my suggestion that they were criminals, there was little written about them online. <image – google top hit – caption – I had become the top hit for their website> I re-read my comments and decided that if this were a genuine company, then my actions looked fairly damning. I had accused them of being criminals and money launderers. This was hardly the most tactful thing to have done and they had a right to be genuinely aggrieved if they were, in fact, legitimate. The email chain which followed gave me a clearer picture of what I was dealing with. Fight Fight Fight Fight While driving home from work, pondering whether I should expect a solicitor’s letter, I received a few emails in succession. First: <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze Hello, You subscribed to Monster service and as we already mentioned we have found your resume at Monster.co.uk and we offer you a job, you can visit our site for more details. As we can guess you decline our offer, in this case we will never email you again. But we asking to remove our company name from your page. Best regards, Erich Meier Support Team Asecco Capital Investment Ltd www.asecco-ltd.com <end OF EMAIL> If I had received a genuine offer of a job, then my job interview technique truly sucks. However, 30 minutes later: <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze Hello, Can you just replace our company name with anything you wish? Your assistance will be much appreciated Best regards, Erich Meier Support Team Asecco Capital Investment Ltd www.asecco-ltd.com <end OF EMAIL> And five minutes after that: <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze Hello, We believe that this is very funny, but we really don't have time for this. Please just change Asecco to anything you wish. We absolutely don't have any wishes to shut down your hosting, but there is no other way. Many thanks for your co-operation, Best regards, Erich Meier Support Team Asecco Capital Investment Ltd www.asecco-ltd.com <end OF EMAIL> So, in schoolyard bully style, they seemed to be suggesting that they would shut my website down if I didn’t comply. I immediately started to wonder why they were so desperate to control the content of my site and why a 40 minute car journey home, during which I was not replying to emails, had provoked so many comments from them. We could agree on one thing, though: my comment about their offer was funny. However, I didn’t like the idea of receiving veiled threats. <email> From: Ashley Frieze From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> Are you threatening to shut down my hosting? Regards Ashley Frieze <end OF EMAIL> Which prompted the following: <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze Hello, We don't threatening you, your site already down. We asking you once again, please remove Asecco name from you page, or just change it to anything else. Best regards, Erich Meier Support Team Asecco Capital Investment Ltd www.asecco-ltd.com <end OF EMAIL> The veil was removed (that should appeal to Jack Straw). Not only were they telling me to change it “or else” but they were claiming to have already shut my site down. The site was working fine at my end, and I assumed that this was just scare tactics. By this stage, they were sending their emails to me at several of my email accounts simultaneously. The mails were in broken English from someone who didn’t appear to be from inside this Asecco company (using a normal ISP account, rather than a company domain). Why would the “Support Team” be more like the “Intimidation Group”? This whole thing looked a bit like a wind-up. Even if it wasn’t, I was starting to consider my freedom to take the mickey out of them a matter of principle. I decided to get them to explain their position in terms of the applicable law, rather than with vague strong-arm posturing. Upping the Stakes I think that it was this email which was the straw to their camel’s back: <email> From: Ashley Frieze To: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> Dear Erich, I do not plan to remove Asecco's name from my website. I am reporting accurately that you sent me an email offering a scheme which I consider to be unusual. If you wish, I will happily include a comment from you, for the sake of balance, on why this is a perfectly legitimate scheme and legal under UK law. I also intend to publish this entire email conversation as well. It seems that you are very keen to have Asecco's name removed from a personal blogging site that virtually nobody reads. This strikes me as odd. Perhaps you would like to explain what the problem is and why you consider it worth requesting that I change my website's contents for you. As for shutting down my site, you are perfectly entitled to complain to my internet service provider, but at the moment, I cannot see the basis for your complaint. The site remains functional. As a UK owned site, hosted in the UK, you would have to have a basis in UK law for making such a complaint. I consider your original email to be unsolicited as, although you searched Monster to find my email address, you came to me with a job offer totally unrelated to my CV and job sector. It would appear to me, from experience, that several other people, also listed on Monster, also received an identical email, offering a scheme very similar looking to the Nigerian 419 email scam. Though it's perfectly possible that you are offering something legitimate, I am a firm believer that jobs which look too good to be true are worth being wary of. Having read your website, I'm left uncertain of what exactly your company does and whether the UK financial service authorities would approve. Perhaps you would like to explain. Regards Ashley Frieze <end OF EMAIL> There I was, striking a blow for freedom of speech and for the little guy. Go me. The following email was a bit of a blow in return. <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze This all very sad, but why you looking for confrontation? We ask you just replace Asecco name... Your hosting is down now (maybe not from UK), also we will spam CHILD PORNO from all your domains and email addresses tomorrow... So all your emails and domains will be closed. Do you wish this? We don't need all this as well... But there is no other way if you don't assist us... So we deal? <end OF EMAIL> Hold on one second. What just happened? Did he claim again to have shut down my site? How? More importantly, was he genuinely suggesting that he would pretend to be me and send out illegal content in my name? Ultimately, was it worth the risk? I chose the answer no. I was never really that good with schoolyard bullying when I was at school. Their request that I remove their name from my site was fairly small. I could still have my fun and avoid the risk of being implicated in child pornography. I’ll explain later why I considered this a sensible decision. I emailed back to explain that I’d make the changes the following day. Real Damage On my return to a computer screen the following morning, I found emails from good old Erich. He’s the guy whom Asecco clearly calls upon to sort stuff out, and he’d managed to get a result from me. Here’s how he celebrated his success: <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze Many thanks for your co-operation. <end OF EMAIL> And then, six hours later: <email> From: Asecco Ltd <asecco@earthlink.net> To: Ashley Frieze Your site must be online shortly. We are really apologize for any inconvenience caused. <end OF EMAIL> You’ve got to hand it to Erich – he’s a polite winner, and he likes to keep in touch, even when I’ve not replied since his last mail. I found it odd that he was acting like he had really taken my site down, especially since I’d seen no evidence of this the previous evening, though I had noticed that it was running slowly. I pondered his options for shutting down my site without complaining to my ISP. Option one is to somehow destroy or alter the DNS entry for the site, so others around the world cannot find it by name. This would be very difficult to do for more than a small section of the internet. Option two is to somehow bring down the server hosting my site. I pondered whether he might have attempted to do that, especially since it had been running slowly the previous evening. Then I discovered that my site was no longer online. As I looked at my hosting company’s support web page to find out about how to contact them, I noticed that they were showing a DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attack on their logs from the previous evening at about the time Erich claimed he’d taken my site down. Surely this was some sort of coincidence? Calling my hosting support line I found out that they’d been the subject of an unprecedented DDOS attack. Several hundred computers from all over the internet had been retrieving web pages constantly and sending random data to their server. Would you like to guess which domain it was all directed at? Mine? Correct. Your prize is 6% of whatever I put in your bank account. So, from a throwaway blog comment, and a few flippant emails, things had escalated to pure internet anarchy. Once my site was put back online (the DDOS was under control) I was able to remove Asecco’s name from my blog. Freedom of Speech vs Inconvenience I like to think of myself as fairly pragmatic. While at first I was adamant that I wouldn’t be silenced by someone unless they could present to me a specific point under civil law which compelled me to change my stance, I quickly changed my tune when threatened with something big enough. Freedom of speech is always worth defending in the abstract, but it can come at a price. If people are operating within the law, and you are publishing something lawful, then there’s nothing to worry about. At the point when they start to threaten with site hacking and child porn scandals, I think it’s reasonable to weigh up the pros and cons. On the one hand, I still think I made an amusing comment on my site. I like to post scam emails in case people, receiving a similar mail, decide to Google its text – if they find that they’re not the only person set to receive Dr. Karibe Dangogo’s fortune, they may think twice before paying the admin fees to release it. However, I know what tools are available to the malicious internet expert, and I could see how easy it would be to find myself the subject of an extensive and embarrassing investigation from well-intentioned local authorities. Though I believed was in the right, my low profile blog is not the place to fight such battles.</div>

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