Real-Life Examples of Why Privacy on the Internet is Essential

An image of hand writing 'online privacy' with black marker on transparent wipe board.
An image of hand writing 'online privacy' with black marker on transparent wipe board.

It is not a wrong thing to prefer to remain anonymous online.

In discussions about our digital lives, some people question the need for strict privacy around one’s internet activity. “If you’re not doing anything wrong“, they’ll say, “Why does it need to be private?”

There are plenty of responses to this question: “right” and “wrong” are not always clear-cut, they can be redefined depending on who’s looking, and even some “right” things are just plain nobody else’s business. But instead of abstract arguments, real-life situations make the point much more clearly.

Legal Differences

One example comes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, regarding the seizure of domain names by the government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This was part of a state initiative to fight online gambling, which is illegal in Kentucky. However, online gambling is not illegal everywhere. The defence for the domain owners made the case that these domain names are not property located in Kentucky, which means the state has no jurisdiction over them, even though gambling is illegal in that state.

This example illustrates how “right” and “wrong” can be very fuzzy in some cases. No matter what your personal opinion about gambling, it’s simply true that it is legal in some places and illegal in others. If a website offers a service which is legal in some jurisdictions, should the domain name be subject to legal action from a jurisdiction where that service is illegal?

Activists and Whistleblowers

If anyone needs the protection of anonymous communication, it’s whistleblowers and other activists. From human rights activists to corporate whistleblowers, these individuals and groups take on powerful organizations which often have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. With a fraction of the resources of those larger organizations, activists may rely on privacy and anonymity while they pursue their work, especially when gathering information. This gives a degree of power back to the activists, who can control when and where they will reveal their information publicly.

Trying to Do the Right Thing

Privacy isn’t only valuable to people taking on the big global issues, nor is the need for online privacy a new story. Both these points are demonstrated by the example, from all the way back in 2005, of a librarian who thought poetry contests should be more fair, and was ousted by his domain registrar.

Any person who takes a strong stand on something risks pushback. Even when there are no legal considerations, social pressure can be a strong deterrent against doing the right thing. True privacy can give people the ability to say what they want and minimize the risk of social as well as legal consequences.

Privacy on the internet is extremely important, and we take it extremely seriously. If you need anonymous web hosting or domain registration, please contact us.

Five Essential Souvenirs from Iceland

The blue water between the lava stones covered with moss just outside The Blue Lagoon Resort
The blue water between the lava stones covered with moss just outside The Blue Lagoon Resort

Iceland is full of exciting adventures waiting for you at every turn.

If you’re going to travel to an exotic destination like Iceland, it’s a good idea to get a souvenir or two. Whether it’s for yourself or someone else, there are some very special things travellers should see (and possibly bring home).

1. Volcanic Jewellery

While volcanoes may not immediately come to mind when thinking about Iceland, appearances can be deceiving. In fact, Iceland has many active volcanoes, and they can be quite disruptive. The country’s famed volcanic glass jewellery, with accents of pure silver, is something you won’t find anywhere else.

2. Sweaters, Scarves, and Knitted Things

Iceland is a country with Scandinavian heritage, so it knows how to stay warm when things cool down. While it may sound like a bit of a cliché souvenir, wool knitwear from Iceland is warm, soft, stylish, and it has a distinct look and feel, so you definitely won’t regret it. Best of all, it pretty much lasts forever, so you’ll always have a warm memory of your trip.

3. Gifts from The Blue Lagoon

This is one of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions. While it’s something to see all on its own, the Blue Lagoon also boasts a gift shop full of unique products that will keep your skin soft and hair gleaming. Naturally made with minerals, geothermal seawater, and other materials from the lagoon, there’s nothing else quite like them. If you get the chance to see the lagoon and try out its beauty treatments, you’ll definitely want to take some of the magic home with you.

4. Atson Leather

Famed far and wide, Atson Leather produces quality, handmade leather goods that come in a wide variety of styles of choices. From jackets and coats to backpacks and briefcases, Atson has something for everyone’s budget level. Even if all you can afford is a spotted seawolf keychain (it’s a very special sort of fish found in Iceland), it’s a unique, attractive souvenir that will be sure to hold all kind of memories.

5. A Guide to Trolls

While Iceland isn’t geographically speaking part of Scandinavia, it shares a great deal of Scandinavia’s culture. This includes trolls, often-gigantic magical creatures who turn to stone in the sun. There are several locations all throughout Iceland where these troll rocks still stand, and for those who want to come and see something unusual a collected guide of famous troll locations would make for a great sightseeing aid. Some of these books even have places inside them where you can mark off the trolls you’ve seen and the ones you want to get to.

Secure Offshore Hosting: A Whistleblower’s Best Friend

An image of a whistleblower's quote.
An image of a whistleblower's quote.

Whistleblowers are the only people who tell us about what is happening behind the closed doors.

Whether it is the pharmaceutical industry in the news for mislabelling a new drug or a fresh government scandal, it is clear that whistleblowers are sometime the only people who tell us about what is really going on behind the doors of power and money.

One example is Tyrone Hayes, a biologist who was hired by a large agribusiness to study one of its herbicides, atrazine. When Hayes’ research found that the chemical caused deformations in animals exposed to it, he was attacked by industry insiders and his work was smeared both within the scientific community and online:

According to company e-mails… its public-relations team compiled a database of more than a hundred “supportive third party stakeholders”, including twenty-five professors, who could defend atrazine or act as “spokespeople on Hayes”. The P.R. team suggested that the company “purchase ‘Tyrone Hayes’ as a search word on the internet, so that any time someone searches for Tyrone’s material, the first thing they see is our material”. – The New Yorker

What’s more, the Environmental Protection Agency based their conclusion that the chemical was safe largely on a group of studies done by the corporation that makes it.

Whistleblowers like Hayes are a fundamental litmus test of our freedom of speech. Usually, dirty corporate and government tactics remain hidden until someone on the inside breaks the silence. If the news is any indication, the protections that ought to be in place for those individuals are not entirely effective. Many people who expose government incompetence or corporate cover-ups are attacked and scrutinized, both through their connections online and in their private lives. A lot of web hosting services in the United States and parts of Europe that have attempted to set up secure spaces for these whistleblowers have had to face their own seemingly insurmountable legal troubles.

One this is certain: corporations and governments will spare no expense to ensure that once information leaks from within the halls of the organization, it is quickly and quietly suppressed.

But there’s a way to fight back!

OrangeWebsite is a whistleblower’s best friend and an offshore hosting service dedicated to the principles of free speech. With our secure servers located in Iceland, outside of the jurisdiction of both the U.S. and the E.U., we’re able to allow you a conduit to the outside world without jeopardizing your identity or disclosing your vital information. Whether it’s a place to hold documents or publish vital data, we’ll never expose you to outside risk.

We take the integrity of our customers’ information very seriously. That’s why we incorporate policies such as two-factor authentication and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection. Your information is not our business and we will only keep the minimum we need to administer your services, which makes us pretty unique among web hosting companies.

If you would like to hear more about ways in which an offshore server can give you the unparalleled benefits of free speech, contact us today for a consultation regarding your needs. Get some peace of mind knowing what you had published to the web will not be turned over by your hosting service at the drop of a hat.

Three Myths About Why Renewable Energy Won’t Work

An image of green city concept through a leaf

Using renewable energy is significantly helping to maintain the balance of our eco-system.

You’ve probably heard a lot of corporate droning about the drawbacks of renewable energy. Powerful oil and gas companies are understandably interested in keeping myths about renewables prominently in the public square so that people will simply accept them as common knowledge. These corporations are profiting handsomely by keeping the energy situation exactly as it is now, and want to keep renewable sources from earning the legitimacy they deserve. We thought we’d debunk a few myths about the downsides of green energy, so you can make up your own mind.

1) It’s Too Expensive

People often cite the false belief that using renewable energy is still too expensive to consider in the immediate future, and that fossil fuels remain the most economically viable energy source. In many cases, this is simply not true, according to Greenpeace:

Right now, renewable energy is actually already cheaper than coal and nuclear power at every step.

Though some fossil fuels are still cheaper than going green, renewables are catching up. And the hidden costs of continuing to depend on carbon — irreversible climate change, dirty air and water, the destruction of habitats – are not usually factored into the market price. This myth gets people to think about their pocketbooks before the future of life on this earth. We humbly suggest that one is a little more valuable than the other.

2) It Actually Hurts the Environment

Many critics of green energy suggest that these sources have some harmful effects. For instance, they often cite the fact that birds and bats are sometimes killed by wind turbines and say that we have to be respectful of all living creatures. Indeed, this is true, but it is also a scare tactic.

With proper planning before the construction of wind turbines, it becomes quite easy to eliminate the problem. It all comes down to some simple assessments of the migratory patterns of the animals to determine where to put them. Basically, these animals — and all living creatures — are in more trouble in the long term if we don’t switch to renewables.

3) It’s Not Viable on a Large Scale

Wrong again. There are plenty of countries that get large portions of their total energy from renewable sources. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, gets 31% of its power from renewables. In 2012, Norway actually generated more electricity than its total consumption from sustainable sources. And Iceland, where our servers are located, generates 100% of its energy from a mix of hydro and geothermal power, and it’s attracting plenty of new business.

The point is that no matter where you are, from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of South Africa, there is almost certainly a renewable source of energy that can be adapted to large-scale use.

What You Can Do About It

The best thing that any of us can do to combat the harmful myths circulating about renewable energy is to educate ourselves and others about the true costs of fossil fuels and the actual facts about going green. Refuting years of corporate messaging is difficult, but necessary.

Contact us to learn more about doing your own part to combat corporate energy dominance.

Freedom of Speech: What It Means In a Connected World

An image of a man's mouth sealed with 'freedom' note
Image of a man's mouth sealed off with freedom sign

Freedom of speech is not to be taken for granted in the modern world.

Freedom of Speech should be an inalienable right, but social media makes things a little more complicated. Everyone is “free” to express themselves however they wish on their Facebook or Twitter feeds, but the line between expressing an opinion and offending someone of consequence is thin — and can have powerful implications for the person doing the offending. What does freedom of speech really mean in a world so constantly plugged in?

Professor Steven Salaita, a prominent scholar of American Indian and indigenous studies with six books and numerous articles to his credit, was offered a job at the University of Illinois. He packed up his life and his family and moved to a different state to take the job. There was a delay as he finished up some obligations at his previous school, and during that delay a newspaper printed some of his tweets regarding Israel’s attack on Gaza. These tweets were critical of Israel and they offended some people.

As more and more people (read: wealthy donors) complained to the University, the school finally made the decision not to hire Salaita. The fact that these tweets were not made during school hours or on school property was apparently immaterial. The professor had an excellent record of teaching and communicating with this students, and he was punished for speaking his mind on the internet, as most of us do so “freely.”

The fact is that freedom of speech in this world is only free up to a point. You can only speak your mind “so much” before it can get you into trouble. Now that we all jump on Facebook or Twitter to broadcast what we had for breakfast, we have to be constantly vigilant about how everything we say may offend someone and therefore jeopardize our own careers. Perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of being so connected, but is it right?

Freedom of speech is defined as “the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone.” It’s a nice theory, but unfortunately the real story is very different. While it’s likely that people like Steven Salaita will have to keep watching what they tweet for a long time to come, it’s important that we work toward a world of freer expression. And those who offend people more powerful than rich university alumni need a safe platform to do so.

If you’re looking for a way to express yourself online without risking your livelihood, you might consider offshore web hosting in a country with the some of the world’s most progressive free speech laws. If you don’t want to identify yourself on your website, you don’t have to. All you need is an email address and an opinion.

For more information on freedom of speech please contact us.