Pacific Media Watch
Al-Jazeera to move web servers out of US

Title -- 4002 INTERNATIONAL: Al-Jazeera to move web servers out of US
Date -- 30 January 2003
Byline -- None
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- Hard News Public Address weblog 28/3/03
Copyright -- HN
Status -- Unabridged

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Mediawatch presenter Russell Brown's Hard News weblog, March 28
Other war on Iraq stories and links

AUCKLAND: (Hard News/Pacific Media Watch): Al-Jazeera is to move its web servers out of the US to a place - somewhere in Europe - where freedom of speech is held in higher regard.

The independent Arab channel's new English-language website has been hit by denial-of-service attacks ever since it launched on Monday, 24 March 2003. The attacks appear to have been directed both at the web servers and at the DNS servers at al-Jazeera's US hosting company,

The DNS attacks mean that the al-Jazeera site essentially disappears from the internet. Attempts to access it draw a number of different error messages, including: "Could not open the page < > because the server could not be found." Al-Jazeera has now been told by its upstream provider in the US that its service will be terminated within days.

The Melbourne Age story suggests that some DNS records (including those for the Iraqi state ISP) may actually have been altered. Vik Olliver, who has been exploring the problem with the New Zealand Linux Users Group, drew a similar conclusion after attempts to reach <> late yesterday (it had been reachable up till about 4pm) returned the message: "connection timed out; no servers could be reached."

"Note that a DDoS attack will not remove an entry from a DNS server," she says. "There is a different error if a domain server cannot be contacted at all. It looks like someone actually pulled the files from the DNS server - the error was returned by the server after all, so it could be reached - and that would involve a US domain server security breach of serious proportions. Unless it was deliberate.

"This seems to be the case in the US too, not just NZ, as I found out when attempting to use the proxy.

"Google is also refusing to display cached pages from Al Jazeera. I have asked colleagues in the New Zealand Linux User's Group to repeat this in New Zealand on different ISPs, and we all get the same problem."

If this is what it appears to be, it's awful. The internet and its accompanying culture are the great American achievement of my lifetime. The attacks strike at its very ethos.

Meanwhile, Wellington-based Scoop <> has explained its decision to continue to publish grisly pictures from the war, including those from al-Jazeera. In a passionate editorial deputy editor Selwyn Manning says:

"To sanitise the reality of warfare is abhorrent to those serving to public interest. To censor images of capture, of death, as a consequence of war, is wrong. If Scoop were to do so, it would be subscribing to the glitzy rah rah top-gun Hollywood-façade-style of reportage that the mainstream United States based media has become obsessed with."

Scoop's average daily traffic has roughly doubled to around 50,000 visits a day since the war began, with much of the traffic coming from the US.

Cartoon: Steve Bell in The Guardian.

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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Sunday, 30 March 2003

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