Microsoft is at its usual worst again, when it comes to the sensible matter of stifling freedom of expression that puts them in a bad light with heavy-handed yet still ineffective legal means. Or are they actually giving their customers a heads up and being the good guys despite all appearances?
Due to a dispute over the publication of their “Global Criminal Compliance Handbook”, an internal Microsoft document detailing their cooperation with law enforcement agencies that was leaked on the well-known and venerable whistle blower website Cryptome.org, Microsoft abused the DMCA to censor the whole domain, which is as of now locked until the dispute is resolved.
Fortunately, even a giant company like Microsoft with deep pockets to buy any law they desire, couldn’t prevent cryptome.org from reappearing under a different domain shortly after being suspended by the powers that be.
So, predictably and perhaps inevitably, in the best Internet tradition of the Streisand effect, the object of dispute was leaked on Wikileaks as well, and is set to remain indefinitely reachable on countless websites worldwide and on highly resilient P2P networks too.
However, even though we all tend to view Microsoft as the bully in this case, maybe they aren’t. In a subtle way, Microsoft could have tried to warn their customers that they are being forced to rat on them once law enforcement agencies come knocking on their doors. Perhaps Microsoft are not free to talk about that publicly due to some US laws, but by invoking the Streisand effect, they may have given their customers a highly visible valuable warning. ;)
Update 2010/02/28: cryptome.org is reachable again since Microsoft seems to have backed down.