Student protest blog vows relaunch after takedown
A student demonstrator support blog closed down by the police for allegedly perverting the course of justice in the wake of last week’s demonstration at Millbank has vowed to fight against its take-down.
The Fitwatch blog, which was advising students that might have been caught on camera on changing their appearance, was shut down following a request by an acting detective inspector who was investigating the demonstration that ended in violence last week.
Shortly after a post explaining how to alter your appearance to avoid suspicion based on CCTV footage, the host site justhost.com removed the content, but the demonstrators say they will be back.
“We have a copy of the site up to when it transferred from Blogger,” the group’s leaders posted on Twitter. “We have a back-up now and hopefully will have a new site tomorrow.”
There is confusion over whether the police had the authority to close down a website in these circumstances, with the students and other commentators questioning whether a court order should have been required.
The takedown request was issued by police investigating the unrest, and josthost.com complied with the request.
The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in central London
“We hereby request [you] de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months,” the Metropolitan Police said in a letter to justhost.com seen by the Guardian . “The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in central London.”
“The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested, with a major police operation under way to identify and arrest further offenders,” the letter said.
Justhost.com is based in the US, and couldn’t comment on the legal requirements of the takedown request, and a Home Office spokesperson was not prepared say whether the host could have refused to comply with the notice without a court order.
“We can request a website is taken down if it is inciting violence or terror,” a spokesperson said.
However the content of the post that appeared to have sparked the takedown notice is still available from cached pages on the web and doesn’t appear to meet those guidelines.
We are waiting to hear back from the Met on the details of its request.