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Old Jan 18, 2012, 01:53 AM
Gigablah's Avatar
Gigablah Gigablah is offline
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Join Date: May 2007
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Default SOPA, PIPA, and Amazon links

Some of you may have noticed that all our Amazon product links have been hidden since early December, although you could still create or edit them. This is actually directly related to a brief downtime we had on December 1st. What transpired was that Amazon's (presumably automated) systems mistook our affiliate links as "phishing collection points" and basically tried to shut our whole site down.

First, their "brand protection" partner, MarkMonitor, sent an email to our hosting provider ServInt, who then forwarded it to us. We clarified that it was a false positive and got in touch directly with MarkMonitor. Their representative confirmed over the phone that it was indeed a mistake, and that they had rejected the service request from Amazon.

But our site still went down for a few hours (possibly more for some visitors) after our DNS provider (Dyn) suspended our zone -- without prior notice -- after receiving an abuse ticket. In the end we moved our DNS hosting to another provider. A customer service officer from Amazon eventually responded to my queries, apologizing for the frustration and claiming that there was no record of phishing detected on our Amazon Associates account. Dyn took five days to reinstate our account.

The Amazon links will return once I make some technical changes (redirecting back to the album page if the links were accessed directly, for instance). But hopefully my account of this incident will help convince some people about the dangers of SOPA/PIPA legislation -- namely the removal of due process, which was the case when Dyn suspended our service indiscriminately. Imagine what it'll be like if they were legally required to do so, at the mercy of overzealous copyright enforcers with the very real possibility of false positives! At the same time I must commend our provider ServInt, not just for standing by a customer, but also for acting as a major voice in the campaign for a free Internet.
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