Site Blockage Shows Bush Team Doesnt Get It

By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2004-10-27 Print this article Print

Opinion: Although not necessarily indicative of foul play, the fact that the Bush-Cheney re-election site is blocking some overseas users shows miscalculation and a lack of tech savvy.

Back in the good old days when the Internet was a fad, not a business, it was commonplace for tech folks to divide the world into two groups: those who "got it" and everyone else. You didnt want to be "everyone else." This was particularly true in politics. Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore "got it." They came to Silicon Valley regularly, they chatted up venture capitalists, they talked about free trade and loosening of encryption export restrictions. Tech, and Silicon Valley in particular, loved them. The Internet isnt a fad anymore. Its a platform for people to create and grow businesses. Regardless of your political affiliation, if youre reading this, you already know that. And you understand the universal reach of the Net, and how its complicated and changed your business. For better or worse, its everywhere. All of the time.
Which makes a recent decision by Bush-Cheney 04—the presidents re-election campaign—a bit puzzling.
Since Monday of this week, the campaign Web site has denied access to domains located outside U.S. borders. Heres an access graph from Netcraft. Thats right. The political campaign to re-elect George Bush isnt talking to the outside world. Read more here about overseas users being denied access to Bushs re-election Web site. There are plenty of explanations, of course. Perhaps the Bush-Cheney campaign has suffered a DOS (denial of service) attack and—with good reason—has shut down access from potential attacks. eWEEK.coms attempts to reach the campaign werent successful, so apart from knowing that access from London, Amsterdam and Sydney has been deliberately blocked, we dont have specifics about whats happened. And lets not all jump to the conclusion that the Bush folks have completely given the tech advantage to the Democrats. The Kerry campaigns use of Web sites isnt—as I wrote on my own site a few months ago—without its own hiccups. But denial-of-service attacks arent exactly new. Microsoft—which could be as simultaneously loved and disliked as any international corporation among the tech-savvy—has this problem pretty regularly. And its tech folks who know what to do. Among other things, they shuffle the server addresses. In other words, its part of doing business on the Web. Right? Right. Smart tech folks prepare for this sort of stuff. But what if something slightly more nefarious is at work? What if Bush-Cheney 04 wants to keep its political messages tamped down for U.S. readers only? Well, thats just as silly. Next Page: Information wants to be free.

Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at that focuses on the intersection of politics, technology and business issues in San Francisco, in California and on the national scene.

Nolan's work is well-known to tech-savvy readers. Her weekly syndicated column, 'Talk is Cheap,' appeared in The New York Post, Upside, and other publications. Debuting in 1997 at the beginnings of the Internet stock boom, it covered a wide variety of topics and was well regarded for its humor, insight and news value.

Nolan has led her peers in breaking important stories. Her reporting on Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone was the first to uncover the now infamous 'friend of Frank' accounts and led, eventually, to Quattrone's conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

In addition to columns and Weblogging, Nolan's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Fortune, Business 2.0 and Condé, Nast Traveler, and she has spoken frequently on the impact of Weblogging on politics and journalism.

Before moving to San Francisco, Nolan, who has more than 20 years of reporting experience, wrote about politics and technology in Washington, D.C., for a series of television trade magazines. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.


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