Internet trolls; here is the story...

revised June 2nd, 2014

If you read some of my "Cause Pimps" site you will know I have had some troubles with so called activists and non profit organizations. This is something very common, especially in Toronto. I think the best way to fight this kind of thing, until we get better laws, is to expose them.

By fight I mean fight them. All this just should not be; they are the slime that oozes out into public space when there is a serious lack of real democracy. They presume to speak for disempowered people they do not represent at all. They expect profit and some sorts of ego gratification for doing this.

Fighting them is hard because there are not enough people doing it, there are not enough people who get it that this is why nothing works in building social movements in English speaking Canada. These people are very aggressive at silencing anyone who sees the truth about them.

I think my web sites have been fairly effective at curbing these people. Among the usual harassing e-mails I get about it are others pretending to advise me that "everybody" thinks I am a bad person and I do not get anywhere in my other activities because people do not want to deal with me because I am...the formula is always the same.

But I get messages giving me new information and thanking me for doing this, for giving them a real heads up about the lay of the land in Toronto. I hear that some of these people will start stuttering when they try to talk about the cause pimps site. It puts a little fear into them and causes some people to reconsider before they start acting like that.

I started the pages about Federation of Metro Tenants Associations around 2002. I started the Cause Pimps site in 2008. Early on I tried starting discussions in various formats about these problems. I closed them down, not because of the creepy psuedo people trying to troll them. These were not hard to remove. It was that people did not want to talk about it, out of fear or maybe because it can be a pretty upsetting topic. I think, too, because there usually is not too much to say except occasional passing on of information.

I had constant trouble with people trying to take the site down, claiming copyright or who knows what. There were efforts to block the domains or shut down the domains. There were lots of service providers in those days, and domain names were cheap. It is not very hard to open an account, upload the files, and move the DNS. But this gets tiresome. I also had a few providers just go out of business on me or that I found too expensive or just too incompetent.

I found a very good domain registar, with the basic sense and respect for their clients to not respond to every crank who wants something taken down. CIRA, the registration for the Canadian major domain, .CA, also has a strong sense of ethics. I found a pretty good service provider in Quebec.

However, I finally started to have some trouble with even that service provider. The owner was a fairly straight up guy, but some of his staff were jerks. I have to wonder if they were being paid off. They took some pages down on the basis of a supposed court order form Ontario which was never signed by a judge. I might have taken this person to the police because that is a criminal offense.

I was also getting my pages hacked into repeatedly and it became clear to me that this could only be done that way with the connivance of somebody working for the server. Getting hacked is not a big problem. You just erase the corrupted files and reupload clean files.

Finally I decided to look into overseas hosting. I found a very good company based in Hong Kong and had my sites with them for some years. The only trouble with them was they were a bit expensive and technical support was difficult. Working hours here are sleeping hours over there. I had trouble finding someone who spoke English and long distance calls could get expensive.

Since the trolls could not get to me there they tried other ways of shutting my sites down. Some bright bulb thought of getting Google to delist my sites by making a complaint. I found various ways to get around that, mostly by creating new domains and doing reroutes, but that too was a pain in the ass.

I sued Google. I actually got some results form that. Google relisted my most valuable domain and my stuff is again fairly high in rankings. One cause pimp, Lehrer, has been much more aggressive still. He has one of these "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" complaints against me.

I am not impressed with American Laws, especially bad laws, being made to apply in Canada. I have never replied to this "dispute notice" from this "chilling effects" and would like to know what made this bunch arbiters of internet disputes. I have no interest in getting into google rankings wars, which will be hopeless against such people. As long as "causepimps" is listed, people who hear by word of mouth of the site can reach its listings.

Usually an attack on my sites is preceded by these e-mails that have been run through remailers and have other junk on them to obscure where they were sent from, and informing me that my site will soon be taken down. After one of these, I was subjected to a Direct Denial of Service attack. All this did was slow things down for a couple of days.

My Hong Kong friends responded well to this attack, even while Hong Kong was being hit by a typhoon. They really are not hard to handle. There is software that identifies the servers involved in the attack and blocks them out.

I was with this service for quite a while. However, these people finally went out of business. I think it was mostly due to some sort of internal dispute. I decided it was time to come back to Canada.

I had heard that Canada had developed some sensible laws or precedents about internet use. I had already conducted an experiment with a mirror server in The States. I soon got an order to take a bunch of things own or be taken down, so I moved back to China for awhile, vowing never to live in Yankee cyberspace again.

However, the first supposedly Canadian provider I signed on with misrepresented themselves and were actually based in the USA. They have to hide where they are now, if they want Canadian business. At first they were not a problem; all I got was some minor copyright trolling.

What I would do with these people, mostly newspapers claiming rights to old clippings I was using, was to suggest that they should donate the rights to it for free as a public service. Nope, couldn't do that. I suggested that they could provide a link to the article in their own archives. No, could not do that either. They were fixated on the idea that I was going to send them some money. So I just paraphrased the article and sent the owner a letter asking them where their trouble making has gotten them.

Copyright laws in Canada are still much too strict. They seem to be based on the idea of creating permanent rents for something that should become public domain after a reasonable interval. In other words, "rent seeking behavior". Copyright should only be about letting creators of work get paid something reasonable. Information should be free flowing.

For example, university professors and researchers were paid by the institutions they work for to produce papers. These universities are largely public funded. What they put out should be free.

Articles from periodicals get their money back from the original sale of the publication. The contents should be free when the next issue comes out. One off publications should become public domain once they are out of print.

As for the music and movie business, much has been written about the need of these people to change their business model and stop bothering people who want to share video files between friends. Most musicians who can actually play music make their money with live performances.

But I digress.

But I come to another problem with internet freedom; phony libel claims. While I was still living in cyber-China, I had Lehrer try to sue me; he hand delivered the papers to my door. I am not stupid enough to respond to that sort of thing, so after awhile the case was thrown out due to lack of prosecution. Some dunces have lost a lot of money by hiring lawyers to defend against this character.

Or non character, because any good libel lawyer will tell you that I cannot deprive someone of a character he or she does not have. And you do not have to defend a libel case against someone who does not file a case. And any lawyer you hire is almost guaranteed to screw you.

However, you have to do something if your web site is taken down because some non character writes a note to some characterless internet provider. This is the trouble I had with Fused. I told them that if they took anything of mine down I would sue them. Then I discovered they were really an American outfit and it would be practically impossible to sue them.

So I got new webspace. I got the site taken down again. I took legal action. I cannot discuss anything about the outcome of it except to say I am satisfied with it. It would have been fun to argue before a judge about the fundamental injustice of Canada's backward laws regarding rights of internet content providers. However, it would not have taken up a lot of my time and energy for a considerable time and gained me little.

Meanwhile, I have now re established my site on a new web hoster, one I should have gone with some time ago. They have been my domain registrar for many years, but more recently have gone into the web hosting business. Their published policy about service terminations is refreshing indeed. It is, that there is such a thing as due process and they will do nothing without a court order unless somebody is doing something that destabilizes the net or their servers, for example participating in a DDOS attack.

One reason I did not move my stuff over before is that their service is still a bit limited and does not have a few things I have been used to. I could only use one domain at first. There were no e-mail list servers. So I have had to reorganize my project. But people can find my sites again.

I had been experimenting with some software which should have increased the effectiveness of my web project. However, I was not really satisfied with it and it is not as easily portable as html files. If I have to move it to another server, the content will be lost unless I acquire additional software to back it up.

What I am looking into now is moving my web project offshore again. There is a company in Switzerland which offers a terrific new platform which would make my sites much more efective and easier to maintain. They seem much more advanced about using the net over there than within the buble of the English speaking world. I think I will be living in Swiss cyberspace by next month. Yodel-ady-hoo.

The jerks in Toronto who want to make a living victimizing other people will have even more to fear from me. I will keep rolling forward, slowly but steadily.

Visit my project now and then.