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Web Hosting For Privacy Activists? 285

Posted by kdawson
from the haven-in-a-data-storm dept.
BritishColumbian writes "I'm thinking about setting up a Web site driven by user submissions. I was wondering which locations have the most liberal (i.e., libertarian) privacy laws. There are some great hosts in the US, however there have been so many FBI requests for user data that I don't want a server hosted under US jurisdiction. Does anyone have any thoughts/suggestions as to a suitable jurisdiction? It doesn't look like Sealand's HavenCo is guaranteed to be privacy-friendly any more."
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Web Hosting For Privacy Activists?

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  • Tor (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lally Singh (3427) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @04:44PM (#22195566) Journal
    Tor [torproject.org] has a few blog hosts available. That way nobody would know who's hosting it. Of course, only tor clients could see the blog....

    OTOH, you could just create an account on blogspot while you're on Tor, and only post to it via Tor. That should keep you kinda safe, as long as you don't reveal yourself on the blog.
  • Nearly free speech (Score:5, Informative)

    by WK2 (1072560) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @04:48PM (#22195590) Homepage
    https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/ [nearlyfreespeech.net] They will allow you to pay in cash, anonymously.
  • xs4all.nl (Score:5, Informative)

    by Incadenza (560402) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @04:51PM (#22195608)
    xs4all.nl is brave enough to face $cientology in a 10-year lasting court case [xs4all.nl]. And winning!
  • by lexarius (560925) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @04:57PM (#22195628)
    Seconded. I'm also fond of their "pay for what you use" cost model. I stuck a $20 in a website six or seven months ago, and that has paid for everything including domain name, MySQL process, bandwidth, etc and still going. Of course, the site in question is a private site meant for only a few people so it doesn't get much traffic, but the rates are fairly competitive for higher amounts of traffic as well. Additionally, you can buy "bandwidth buckets", which can (hopefully) get you through a Slashdotting without draining your coffers too much.

    Otherwise, there's always Freenet. Decentralized anonymous content hosting. Not quite The Web, but if you need it, it's there.
  • Canada (Score:3, Informative)

    by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @05:12PM (#22195742) Journal
    Canada has wonderful privacy laws. I recommend checking us out. Of course, you should really investigate the specific company you might wish to host with. Because, many will submit to such foreign requests.

    Btw, if privacy is really your concern, you should at most co-locate and use disk encryption, etc. Also, if you aren't in the physical US, you should consider hosting the site yourself. That's really the only way you'll know for sure...
  • Sealand or Tor (Score:4, Informative)

    by Yahma (1004476) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @05:16PM (#22195762) Journal

    You have a few options, the first being Havenco [havenco.com] in the micro-nation of Sealand, which is an old WWII off shore platform that claims sovereignty. They have not, however, been recognized by other states, leaving their international legal status in limbo. They do claim, however, to not be under the jurisdiction of other nations laws.

    Your second and cheaper option is hosting via Tor [torproject.org] network. There are a few blogs and other sites hosted via Tor, although there are some technical difficulties involved.

    Be aware, if your privacy blog angers a powerful entity such as China, they can choose to just block all traffic to your site, rather than forcing your site offline.

    --
    Boycott Nokia [nrwspd.de] - Stop corporate Greed. Nokia, connecting people with the unemployment line.
  • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 26, 2008 @05:27PM (#22195846)
    The US is good on free speech but it is not good on privacy which is the point of this article. As far as privacy is concerned, Privacy International ranks [wikipedia.org] both Germany and Canada very highly. I'd recommend Canada to get around Germany's prohibited speech laws.
  • Re:Nowhere (Score:4, Informative)

    by PresidentEnder (849024) <{wyvernender} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday January 26, 2008 @05:28PM (#22195850) Journal
    In a truly libertarian system, they wouldn't dare do that, because then nobody would use their services; furthermore, they'd be afraid of retaliation.
  • Greece? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Pinckney (1098477) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @05:32PM (#22195874)
    Privacy International [http://www.privacyinternational.org/] ranks Greece highest among the nations they have examined in terms of the protection it provides for privacy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 26, 2008 @05:59PM (#22196042)
    Actually Freenet is not that great any more. The community totally fragmented with the 0.7 closed-net development. I won't explain the whole deal here because there is a lot of information about the issues.

    So basically most people are still on the older 0.5 release while development is trying to push the newer crappier 0.7 stuff. It's just a big mess.
  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) * on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:14PM (#22196158) Homepage Journal
    You might want to consider the Scandinavian/Baltic region.

    Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Greenland are all pretty protective about their citizens privacy. Provided your sites contain only "controversial" (but not illegal) content, you would definitely be in the clear!

    Illegal content would be: child pornography, copyrighted material for which you do not have the distribution right, neo-nazi propaganda and holocausts-denial. Pretty much everything else is accepted. Including blasphemies drawings

    Germany is also a good bet - but you would have to add "scientology" to the list of illegal content ;-)

    - Jesper
  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:22PM (#22196208) Homepage
    Basically, Sweden may be a good place, as long as you don't think about doing child pornography or actively breaking the law with actions that can awake RIAA, MPAA or the Swedish STIM, but from the question I assume that this is mostly a political issue. Of course you may not actively push for violent actions either (like blowing up the electrical grid, Hoover dam or Mt Rushmore. But being an annoyance like peeing on the flag or similar actions are just ignored.

    There are some laws that loosely requests that members of a bulletin board shall be known, but I have never heard about anyone being even brought to court in such cases and the verification is at most an email address, and considering the volatility of email addresses that's no big problem. The "Freedom of speech" is relatively strong, and as long as you don't actively push for breaking the law in ways that can be considered worthy to being brought to court it's no big issue.

    Having a system with a moderation (maybe like the Slashdot moderation) may still be a good idea to be able to cool down anything that goes over the edge.

    There have been some fuzz earlier about the Swedish site Flashback [flashback.net] for promoting cracks and computer criminality, but it actually hasn't ended up into anything of substance. Maybe you even can have your own forum at that site! In most cases the police will just look and thing "Well - another set of nuts - and go for some more coffee...". Considering that there are bigger fish to fry and the end result of the Pirate Bay story it will take a lot of pressure before anything happens if somebody in the US wants to do a crackdown. And it's likely to hit the newspapers too even before there is time to do something... And essentially the police is more into the watching part and avoids the acting part since it means paperwork. And they have better things to watch for than a bulletin board where the most of the discussion will fall under the freedom of speech anyway.

    Crimes that will put you on the radar of the police are more like driving under the influence (0.02% limit), speeding (fixed speed cameras at random locations on major roads) and drugs, both narcotics and illegal sales of prescription drugs but I don't think that the first two of these will apply for a web server hosting anyway.

  • by RobinGood (757807) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:28PM (#22196246)
    I have been looking for such an alternative for quite some time as you can read from here http://tinyurl.com/66488 [tinyurl.com]. But to my dismay haven't found anything really interesting. Last month I received an email referencing my post and offering some secure and politically independent hosting solution. It is called the Republic Cyberbunker and it may be an interesting alternative. CyberBunker was built as a NATO base in 1955. In 1995 it was sold to a company under the control of it's present royal family and government but it never officially became Dutch territory. You need to evaluate it and check it yourself. At EUR 350.- per month you can get a dedicated server inside a supposedly de-militarized zone that is outside any official government territory. There is a Skype number and I have exchanged a few emails with them without trouble. You can find more info at http://www.cb3rob.net/ [cb3rob.net] and http://www.republic-cyberbunker.org/ [republic-cyberbunker.org]
  • The problem is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xest (935314) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:35PM (#22196278)
    Venezuela is hardly known for it's love of privacy and freedom either, whilst it may hate the US it's also arguably even more hostile towards privacy and human rights.

    It might be good for holding material that infringes US copyrights as that is something that harms the US but for privacy, you need a nation that actually cares about privacy.

    A few European nations seem the best bet right now like Sweden and Switzerland. Alternatively, look for rather backwards nations that have internet access but whose goverments haven't quite got the hang of the internet just yet and hence haven't written laws that allow law enforcement and so forth to go round doing whatever the hell they want on it. I'm not sure what the Eastern European nations are like but they may be a good bet, perhaps try countries like Latvia? Slovakia? Romania? Some small island nations like Antigua may be pretty decent also.

    Unfortunately, just because a nation is hostile to the US it doesn't mean it's automatically friendly towards privacy and human rights.
  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:42PM (#22196316) Homepage Journal
    I know that this is a troll. But just to educate people, the TV station was not shut down. The government merely neglected to renew the licence for them to broadcast over the airwaves.

    They can still broadcast over cable or satellite etc.

    Of course, one of the reasons the government did this was because of the support, by this TV station, for the armed overthrow of the government. Which in the US, I imagine, would get you locked up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:43PM (#22196330)
    You might try PRQ (www.prq.se). It's operated by one of the guys that operates The Pirate Bay... Essentially it's an ISP which doesn't turn away business, however distasteful or unpopular, as long as it doesn't break Swedish law.
  • Re:here's what I do (Score:5, Informative)

    by bitingduck (810730) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:45PM (#22196340) Homepage
    you really need to hook it up to a dynamo that's driven by the water coming in through the fill line. Use that to charge the battery and you can really decrease the amount of maintenance.
  • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:3, Informative)

    by squidinkcalligraphy (558677) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @07:05PM (#22196450)

    Austriala and New Zealand maybe a as liberal as the US but I think they are closer to most EU nations according the Wikipedia they are.

    Australia has quite repressive libel laws. If you get sued for libel, there is the presumption of guilt (i.e. the defendant has to prove they did not commit libel). On top of that, a court case a couple of years ago allowed an Australian to sue (under Australian jurisdiction) a publication for libel due to what they had published on their US website. The judge had ruled that the web is 'published' where it is read, not where it is hosted. Hardly liberal or progressive. That's even before getting started on the recent anti-terrorist bullcrap and impending DMCA-like system about to be introduced. Free speech is not sacred in Australia - there is some argument for freedom of political expression inherent in the fact we are a democracy, but is not enshrined in the constitution or bill of rights or some such thing. Strike that one off the list.
  • by True Vox (841523) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @08:16PM (#22196892) Homepage
    I fully agree. Freenet and NearlyFreeSpeech are both great things. Different uses, but both great none the less. The blog in my sig is hosted at NFS. GREAT people to work with.
  • Re:Russia (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dutch Gun (899105) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @09:25PM (#22197256)
    You'll have to forgive me if I don't consider a place "safe" when you have to put qualifiers about what users might start saying, or when talking about having to know the correct people to bribe...
  • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:2, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Saturday January 26, 2008 @09:26PM (#22197258)
    It depends on what you determine to be liberal. No, we are not perfect but we are still one of the best places for free speech. In some countries a comment such as yours may have been a very gutsy move. But in America is is just foolish sarcasm. The reasons why a lot of countries seem like things are going all good and fine while America is pure evil. Is the fact we americans feel free to criticize our government and out life style. While other countries doing such contains a major act or bravery. Even in many considered liberal countries even in Europe a lot of what we consider common and silly is a serious matter for them.
  • Re:here's what I do (Score:2, Informative)

    by armada (553343) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @09:36PM (#22197304)
    I hope you are either kidding or dont host anything too ilegal on that server. Changing batteries is hardly an anonnymous act. Unless you, while wearing a mask, pay a bumb you find far from the cafe to change them for you. Make sure its a different bumb each time and they are all %100 sure not to swipe your server or eat the batteries.
  • Uncensorable Hosting (Score:5, Informative)

    by JWSmythe (446288) * <(moc.ehtymswj) (ta) (ehtymswj)> on Saturday January 26, 2008 @10:32PM (#22197564) Homepage Journal
    There are two big things with this.

    First, any provider can and will give in to pressures. Just because they're not "in" the United States doesn't mean that they won't be leaned on by the United States.

    Every provider connects to someone else. Otherwise, you being on your residential Cable/DSL/whatever wouldn't be able to reach Rajhed's IndiaPorn. :)

    Being that it is true, the gov't could simply lean on American held companies, or companies with American interests, to find out who you are, find out what's on your servers, or simply get you unplugged. Just because you host at Sealand, in central Siberia, or whereever, you still run the risk of provider A strongly encouraging provider B to do something about it.

    Been there. Done that. Got the Federal agent sitting in my office about it. Of course, I played stupid until I found out what the hell he was talking about, and then made some phone calls to find out the rest of the story. :) (short story, our customer handed over an exploited server. It was only because it was exploited, it had nothing to do with the content. They had already put a new machine up with restored content, as good exploit protocol suggests.)

    Second, what the hell do you think you're going to say, that will get the feds knocking on your door, on the hosting facility's door, etc, etc?

    I run http://freeinternetpress.com/ [freeinternetpress.com] . If you read what we say, and have said for years, by all the legend of the National Security letters, we quite likely should have our phones tapped, servers confiscated, and been visiting Southeastern Cuba for more than a few days.

    In reality though, we've had every (like, EVERY) intelligence agency in the world read our news. That was scary at first, but I made some friends (through other means) who had worked in intelligence, and they broke the bad news to me. The feds aren't watching us because they're interested in getting us. They're watching us because we are a good news source. Even though we've NEVER had a single contact regarding Free Internet Press, we're read every day. Above that, you'd be surprised to find out how many intelligence agencies there are out there. It took us quite a while to decode a lot of the hostnames, even when we ran them up and down a few of our grapevines. My favorite that I still like to brag about is eop.gov . They were monthly visitors.

    I haven't bothered to re-check our logs to see what odd hostnames come in any more. It's entertaining, but serves no other purpose.

    I'm VERY close with my hosting company. (like, VERY). I'd know the moment they were sniffing around, mostly because I'd be the one to open the cabinet door for them. :)

    If it came down to it though, we'd just dump the hostname off to another server (I have a few spare hosting accounts in my pocket, all under different people's names, at different facilities), and put it right back online with a big notice "WE GOT SHUT DOWN BY THE FEDS, Here's the documents!"

    If I didn't do it, there are a dozen or so other people with enough access to do it for me. Like, if I ended up in Southeastern Cuba, with an orange jumpsuit, a blanket, and a copy of the Koran (they issue 'em to everyone, from what I understand).

    So, what's going to keep you from landing in hot water?

    1) Don't say you're going to kill someone.

    2) Don't threaten to blow something up.

    3) Don't make claims above and beyond anything you're really willing to do.

    For example (EXAMPLE!) if you were to say, "I'm going to blow up the Whitehouse tomorrow", if you're not serious, you're stupid for saying it. If you are serious, you deserve to get beaten down and thrown in jail for a long time. While I'll disagree with
  • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:2, Informative)

    by daff2k (689551) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @10:45PM (#22197618)
    Yes. "A whole nation based on the principle of saying one thing, and doing another." And apart from not being able to form a coherent sentence you seem to have absolutely no idea what you are talking about when it comes to European countries.
  • Re:Unfortunately... (Score:3, Informative)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Sunday January 27, 2008 @12:26AM (#22198050) Journal
    That's old data. Greece [privacyinternational.org](?!) is number one now. The trend indicates that "off the planet" is the best option.
  • No Provider (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday January 27, 2008 @07:06AM (#22199258) Homepage Journal
    There is no solution to your problem unless you cut out the provider part. For every provider, you will be a minor customer not worth major trouble with government or law enforcement, and often not even with something like the RIAA or even just a lawyer who knows how to write impressive letters.

    I ran one of the major DeCSS sites back when they were being taken down by the dozens (and new ones appeared quicker than that). In the turmoil, I offered one of about ten or so reliable static points, simply because I didn't have a provider at all - I worked at the company hosting the site, and I was one of the guys in charge of the server farm, and would have been among the first the lawyers would've talked to in case of any serious trouble.

    Go work for an ISP and make sure you know the people in the legal department. Oh, also: Make sure it's not a company server, but a private server for which you have an agreement that it'll be hosted, cost-free, as part of your employment. That's how I've done it at several companies, and the only thing I'd do different today is to make sure I get that in writing.
  • Re:here's what I do (Score:1, Informative)

    by Gresyth (1103851) on Sunday January 27, 2008 @09:09AM (#22199622)
    Here's the Power of Pee [cellular-news.com] Just 1 example I found.
  • Re:Nowhere (Score:3, Informative)

    by BeanThere (28381) on Sunday January 27, 2008 @12:07PM (#22200412)
    Under whose definition of "libertarian" did you deduce that there would be no government enforcement? Libertarianism doesn't mean "no government" - that's "anarchy". Libertarianism is, effectively, 'minimal government required to maintain law and order', and that would include contract law.
  • by ZSO (912576) on Sunday January 27, 2008 @05:01PM (#22202182)
    They will allow you to pay in cash, anonymously.

    Their website disagrees with you. [nearlyfreespeech.net]

    We do not accept cash payments; you may use cash to obtain money orders from the United States Postal Service, Western Union, and many other vendors in the United States. Internationally, we recommend the use of American Express worldwide money orders denominated in US Dollars.

    If you wish to pay us anonymously, contact us in advance to request special arrangements. As we have a very protective privacy policy, such requests will be granted only if there are extenuating circumstances.

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