22
Oct 20

The Now-Defunct Firms Behind 8chan, QAnon

Some of the world’s largest Internet firms have taken steps to crack down on disinformation spread by QAnon conspiracy theorists and the hate-filled anonymous message board 8chan. But according to a California-based security researcher, those seeking to de-platform these communities may have overlooked a simple legal solution to that end: Both the Nevada-based web hosting company owned by 8chan’s current figurehead and the California firm that provides its sole connection to the Internet are defunct businesses in the eyes of their respective state regulators.

In practical terms, what this means is that the legal contracts which granted these companies temporary control over large swaths of Internet address space are now null and void, and American Internet regulators would be well within their rights to cancel those contracts and reclaim the space.

The IP address ranges in the upper-left portion of this map of QAnon and 8kun-related sites — some 21,000 IP addresses beginning in “206.” and “207.” — are assigned to N.T. Technology Inc. Image source: twitter.com/Redrum_of_Crows

That idea was floated by Ron Guilmette, a longtime anti-spam crusader who recently turned his attention to disrupting the online presence of QAnon and 8chan (recently renamed “8kun”).

On Sunday, 8chan and a host of other sites related to QAnon conspiracy theories were briefly knocked offline after Guilmette called 8chan’s anti-DDoS provider and convinced them to stop protecting the site from crippling online attacks (8Chan is now protected by an anti-DDoS provider in St. Petersburg, Russia).

The public face of 8chan is Jim Watkins, a pig farmer in the Philippines who many experts believe is also the person behind the shadowy persona of “Q” at the center of the conspiracy theory movement.

Watkin owns and operates a Reno, Nev.-based hosting firm called N.T. Technology Inc. That company has a legal contract with the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the non-profit which administers IP addresses for entities based in North America.

ARIN’s contract with N.T. Technology gives the latter the right to use more than 21,500 IP addresses. But as Guilmette discovered recently, N.T. Technology is listed in Nevada Secretary of State records as under an “administrative hold,” which according to Nevada statute is a “terminated” status indicator meaning the company no longer has the right to transact business in the state.

N.T. Technology’s listing in the Nevada Secretary of State records. Click to Enlarge.

The same is true for Centauri Communications, a Freemont, Calif.-based Internet Service Provider that serves as N.T. Technology’s colocation provider and sole connection to the larger Internet. Centauri was granted more than 4,000 IPv4 addresses by ARIN more than a decade ago.

According to the California Secretary of State, Centauri’s status as a business in the state is “suspended.” It appears that Centauri hasn’t filed any business records with the state since 2009, and the state subsequently suspended the company’s license to do business in Aug. 2012. Separately, the California State Franchise Tax Board (FTB) suspended this company as of April 1, 2014.

Centauri Communications’ listing with the California Secretary of State’s office.

Neither Centauri Communications nor N.T. Technology responded to repeated requests for comment.

KrebsOnSecurity shared Guilmette’s findings with ARIN, which said it would investigate the matter.

“ARIN has received a fraud report from you and is evaluating it,” a spokesperson for ARIN said. “We do not comment on such reports publicly.”

Guilmette said apart from reclaiming the Internet address space from Centauri and NT Technology, ARIN could simply remove each company’s listings from the global WHOIS routing records. Such a move, he said, would likely result in most ISPs blocking access to those IP addresses.

“If ARIN were to remove these records from the WHOIS database, it would serve to de-legitimize the use of these IP blocks by the parties involved,” he said. “And globally, it would make it more difficult for the parties to find people willing to route packets to and from those blocks of addresses.”

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106 comments

  1. Wow. Nice find, everybody. Hope it pans out!

  2. Ooh…..this little gem of an article is gonna bring out the crazies!

    Thanks Brian.

  3. Darn you, Brian – they’ve been notified.

    These holders of the IP blocks could have had their blocks relinquished by ARIN (if ARIN isn’t partisan).

    Now some rich proponent of these 8Chan/qanon/russian messages may step up to get the reservations reestablished.

  4. Thanks for the great read! Nice follow up.

  5. The Sunshine State

    A pig farmer in the Philippines, who controls , more than 21,500 IP addresses ( 84 net blocks) , something doesn’t sound right here.

    • Please read more carefully.

      The ghost of what used to be (but is no more) a valid California legal entity that was known as “Centauri Communications” currently holds title to the following ARIN-issued IPv4 address blocks, amounting to 4096 individual IPv4 addresses:
      —————-
      74.116.64.0/21
      208.74.64.0/22
      199.16.104.0/22

      Meanwhile, and separately, the ghost of what used to be (but is no more) a valid Nevada legal entity known as “N.T. Technology, Inc.” currently holds title to the following ARIN-issued IPv4 address blocks, amounting to 21,504 individual IPv4 addresses:
      ————————-
      67.219.0.0/20
      204.63.0.0/20
      204.63.8.0/24
      204.63.14.0/24
      204.63.15.0/24
      206.223.144.0/20
      206.223.156.0/24
      207.29.224.0/19

      ARIN is now relying on the fulfillment of contractually binding terms and conditions in both of these instances with corporate entities that no longer have any valid legal existence. Thus, if in either case, ARIN’s contractual counterparties fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, under their respective contracts with ARIN, then ARIN has *no* legal recourse against either of these entities, for the simple reason that they no longer exist, legally speaking. (You can’t sue something that doesn’t actually exist.)

      A good analogy is if your brother rents a car from Hertz and let’s you use it on your vacation. While you are on vacation, your brother dies in an unrelated accident. Bingo! You get to keep the car!

      Well, actually, no, it doesn’t work this way. Hertz is not that dumb. If your brother dies, then Hertz WILL get that car back. ARIN? Not so much. If you die, ARIN will let -somebody- keep what they leased to you.

      No other business in America operates this way, for the simple reason that it’s ludicrous on the face of it.

      • Article, “KrebsOnSecurity shared Guilmette’s findings with ARIN, which said it would investigate the matter.”

        From ARIN’s own record, http://whois.arin.net/rest/asn/AS32335/pft:
        “ARIN has attempted to validate the data for this POC, but has received no response from the POC since 2017-11-21” Nearly three years ago.

      • Don’t know: Perhaps ARIN has a “legal requirement” to enforce it’s legal contracts instead of being used in furtherance of 8chan. ARIN could end up linked to the lawsuit vs 8chan–ARIN is linked by technology, one step away from being linked to the lawsuit.

      • NoOneInParticular

        “Thus, if in either case, ARIN’s contractual counterparties fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, under their respective contracts with ARIN, then ARIN has *no* legal recourse against either of these entities, for the simple reason that they no longer exist, legally speaking. (You can’t sue something that doesn’t actually exist.)”

        That’s not true. They may not have easily effective ways of enforcing the contract. Either way ARIN is not really out anything. They still have their assets (the IP address blocks). And yes, ALL corporate contracts work this way whether the goods are physical or virtual. Point in particular is a requirement for the contracting parties to minimize their exposure after breach. Since ARIN just rents those address blocks to someone new, then their damages would probably be limited to whatever contractual payment they may or may not have been entitled to over the life of the contract. If they were paid a lump sum up front, then they’re out nothing. We don’t know the details of the contract and the devil is in the details. This is literally how all businesses do contract law for goods because it’s detailed in the Uniformed Commercial Code which both California and Nevada follow. BTW, contracts are not legally void if one party dissolves or dies. Claims are then laid against the deceased’s estate or insolvent corporate assets should the remaining party believe it’s worth the expense. If you’ve ever had to go through probate proceedings with major creditors outstanding you’d know this.

        The additional question in my own mind is whether or not the contract for rental was fraudulently obtained. Establishing fraudulent intentions can trigger some nasty civil and criminal consequences against the stakeholders for those corporate entities. Corporate veil won’t shield corporate officers against criminal liability.

    • Just to be clear, he’s a pig farmer now. But he got most of his money by being a web host for Japanese porn companies who couldn’t host their porn in Japan.

  6. So when did Brian become anti-free speech? Disgusting.

    • Walter Winchell started out with good intentions

    • God bless Brian,
      I lost my grandpa because of 8chan!

      On the serious note, truly disgusting. If we close every corner of the internet because some american hillbillies choose to believe whichever conspiracies, soon all that’s left available will be FB and this blog.
      I truly hate how the whole world seems to orbit the USA and their politricks.

      • Facebook facilitated the spread of Q way more than 8chan, FYI.

        • Not exactly true.
          Facebook is more open and ubiquitous than 8chan. But that doesn’t make them “responsible”, but rather a tool being used.

          They do take down content as quickly as possible. 24 minutes for that NZ shooting. And now banning more than ever.

          Blaming Facebook is in fashion, but really, 8chan doesn’t even try to curb violent or hate speech. That makes 8chan way more responsible.

    • Exactly. Suppressing speech is unAmerican even if you don’t agree with it. Sounds like a bunch of Hitler’s brown shirts not Freedom loving Americans.

      • That’s nonsense and the opposite of truth.

        Hitler claimed to be “silenced” and that his speech was being “censored”

        Hitler’s propagandists even created posters with his mouth taped shut with the words “verboten” (forbidden/censored) over his mouth.

        So actually, Hitler and his brownshirts did the whole “we’re being censored!” routine that you are doing, to normalise their extremism and slowly get their hooks into German society, over a period of 20 years.

        • Ah yes, Ye Olde If It Happened To Hitler It Must Be Bad or Good Depending On Whatever I Want It To Be argument.

          • You known how so many people say, “We’ll never forget”, after atrocities?
            Comparing today’s authoritarian dictatorships to what is arguably the baseline, Hitler… is absolutely necessary to properly “never forget” in the hopes of not repeating the same mistakes.
            So of course, comparisons to Hitler are not usually relevant… but with the topic at hand and the current information warfare being waged… it is absolutely necessary that we compare.

    • @Mattk Make the noise! Make the noise Q sheep!

      Baaaaaaaa.

  7. The videos this group put out (Q) are so well made that they even beat Hollywood on fantasy film making. I’ve talked to people that have higher IQs than I do, that got duped by their cray-cray stories! Keep up the good work Brian, I hope you don’t get sideways with the “Q”!!

  8. NineteenEightyFour

    Has Krebs become a left wing bleeding heart SJW? Say it isn’t so…

    QAnon is a dumb conspiracy but so is a lot of conspiracies on the left which never get called out. Let them have their conspiracies. Free speech is more important. I know companies have the right to refuse service but Krebs seems like he has a personal vendetta against this site and is doing his best to get it shut down.

    • So I guess that you are down with the DailyStormer.com too, right? Because that is hosted in that same /24 block also.

      I don’t know about you, or where you are from, but my ancestors died fighting against this kind of crap. As far as I’m concerned these jerks can move to Bolivia with the rest of the former NAZIs if they hate freedom and equality that much.

      Get it straight. These people are calling for insurrection and fascism. They don’t want free speech. They want to kidnap and murder state governors who they don’t personally agree with.

      Read the news and get caught up. I’ll wait.

      • It’s always better leave crazies be (nazis, terrorists etc) and use public channels such as the *-chans in order to be able to monitor their ideas and plans than push them into secrecy and make it harder to monitor them.
        I’d rather have nazis wear a swastika-armband in the open so that I can outright identify who to avoid than have them keep their ideas secret.

        • Cherry Chevapravatdumrong

          I believe this is the correct answer and I really wish more people thought this way.

          Stupid people are going to do stupid things. But if you think taking down a site like 8chan is the solution, it’s pretty shortsighted.

          • I think a big part of the problem is how news organizations eat this stuff up and regurgitate it, lending it more legitimacy than it warrants.

            Who knew that would give so much airtime to a bunch of angry, attention seeking children whose sole purpose is to ‘f*ck with sh*t.’ Thanks to all that airtime, those angry, savvy children have been able to rope in angry, credulous adults.

            Taking down a site is a symbolic move at best. But why should Centari Comunications and N.T Technologys get a pass when California and Nevada have evidently removed their right to do business in those states? That’s an honest question, as I don’t really understand what it means that California and Nevada have removed their right to do business.

        • Q isn’t so much a fascist organization as a right-wing propaganda operation with some calls to action that lead to stochastic terrorism. The original Q account doesn’t even post that much any more. It has become self-perpetuating via facebook and twitter now. Though I agree that the attempts to suppress related accounts are bad because they are a) fruitless, and b) a pretext to ban accounts from the left, which I see as a false-equivalency.

        • This idea of “keep them in the public light, so we can ‘monitor’ them”, is BS and doesn’t work.

          What are you gonna “monitor them” for? What good would that do for society?

          Booting their website doesn’t mean silencing them. Rather taking away their megaphone and platform in the public square, but they are still free to speak their minds in the shadow and alleys.

          They still have free speech without the Internet. They are free to call each other up and write letters to each other. They are free to write pamphlets and manually distribute them. They can even host their own servers and provide all infrastructure themselves.
          But freedom of speech doesn’t mean they get help distributing their voices by people who don’t explicitly agree to help.

          The right answer is to boot them from civilized society and the public square. Not to keep them their for “monitoring”. The FBI can keep an eye on the dark web. Society can decide not to tolerate this hate, and turn their backs. They can shout into the void in the shadows, and not be allowed to recruit new members from the rest of the Internet. Only those who go looking for this stuff, should be able to find it. I’m tired of good people stumbling on this Qanon nonsense.

        • Disagree, and so did Karl Popper when he stated the paradox of tolerance. Since I failed miserably saying this better than Popper himself I’ll just quote him:

          “In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.”

          “I do not imply for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force…”

      • I’m unironically ok with leaving the Daily Stormer up. Let morons be morons in their corner of the internet. How the hell can you make the “I’m fighting for freedom by censoring people I don’t like” argument with a straight face?

        And in case you haven’t been paying attention, social media censorship started with fringe groups like that. Nobody complained because “screw Nazis!” but the definition social media uses for “Nazi” is anyone to the right of Bernie. So now even center-left people are being censored.

        Hopefully Krebs will get back to looking into actual cyber criminals rather than trying to shut down innocuous boomer conspiracy theorists.

        • Why do people think censorship is based on political opinion/bias? Its based on potential harm.

          Social Media doesn’t ban because of political views. Although that is what is seems like for those who get banned/censored.
          But that is because these people cannot fathom why they got banned/deleted, so they assume its because of their “opinion”.

          But it was. It was because words do matter in the real world. What the Nazi thinks is just an “opinion” that Jews are inferior… actually has real world consequences. So the harm that the speech does, is the reason why hate speech is banned.

          Also, lies that are spread to misinform and manipulate, are also banned because of the real world harm they do. Whether COVID or mail in ballots, speech can go beyond conveying a simple idea or opinion.

          That is why social media bans some speech.. and it has nothing to do with left/right political spectrum position.

    • all those who say this is harmless and to let the rightwing nutjobs have their conspiracies haven’t been paying attention. read about how Qanon is priming the pump for when Trump loses

      https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/the-rights-disinformation-machine-is-hedging-its-bets/616761/

    • Is it suddenly left wing to document how false information is distributed from IP adresses belonging to non-existing companies ?

      The closest we have seen to pedophilia in top government circles is somebody who is just tucking his shirt into his trousers after accepting a drink in the bedroom with a young looking girl.

      One thing I do not understand about the US is how so many people can think Crazy Don is better than Sleepy Joe. In the rest of the world, I guess less than 15% of the populations sees Crazy Don as a sane choice. And we all wonder why USA has decided to let people vote between 2 bad candidates that would not have stood a chance anywhere else.

  9. I like reading QAnon!! I believe the majority of stories are fact !

  10. There is value in what Krebs does, but, after a number of years reading his stuff, he shows himself to be a shameless self-promoter, favoring stories wherein the protagonists have some connection to “this reporter” and a loyal adherent to the Washington Post’s worldview, best summed up by Her Majesty Queen Hillary, that there is a “vast right-wing conspiracy” out there. Oh Brian, you may believe that conservatives are all “poorly educated and easily led” as one of your WAPO brethren opined now many years ago, but the only truly crackpot conspiracy theory is your own.

    • Instead of wasting your own time here as someone who doesn’t really matter to begin with, why don’t you return to the realm of TOR where you belong with the other QAnon crackpots?

  11. You know Brian hasn’t worked for the post for many years, right? Your attacks are not on his reporting, but on an association that ended years ago.

    If people were to hold me responsible for the opinions of the employees of companies I used to work for – I’d be responsible for over 100,00 opinions.

  12. Who really cares about conspiracy followers anyway? As long as they are not taking money from folks, inspiring violence, or breaking the law, no harm, no foul. Many follow these fringes for the entertainment value, like the flat earth groups. I could care less if some dingleberry thinks the moon landing didn’t happen, no skin off my nose. Let em go on about their nonsense, keeps them occupied.

    • QAnon is inspiring violence. One of their core lies is that prominent politicians are part of a pedophile ring engaged in trafficking and abusing children.

      If “some dingleberry” thinks children are being openly abused and no one will stop it, they’re likely to show up with a gun and start shooting in an effort to rescue those abused children. That happened. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-washingtondc-gunman/man-pleads-guilty-in-washington-pizzeria-shooting-over-fake-news-idUSKBN16V1XC)

      That’s the difference. That’s why no one ever tried to shut down the Flat Earth Society (which claims the moon landing never happened) but the FBI has determined QAnon to be a domestic terrorism threat.

      • >One of their core lies is that prominent politicians are part of a pedophile ring engaged in trafficking and abusing children.

        After Epstein, can this still be called a lie, or even up for debate? I agree the QAnon thing is stupid, but this seems like a particularly weak counterargument to use.

        • Yes, some conspiracies do exist. But the problem lies with the these theories that can then ad-hoc add anyone they disagree with, to some existing real conspiracy.

          It would be one thing if someone could claim that a specific politician was part of the fake moon landing, and could rally extremists to attempt a crime like kidnapping or assassination. But that’s not something that happens with legitimately benign conspiracies. (worst that happened was some conspiracy nut accused Buzz Aldrin, and Buzz punched him).

          Qanon has violent delights and violent ends. There will always be a nutter who believes so deeply and takes action as the natural conclusion to the accusation. Claiming the existence of a cabal, global pedo ring, or even claiming the intent for some politician to take guns away… has consequences.
          These lies have violent consequences.

    • This is why people care about Qanon, and want it gone: https://www.reddit.com/r/QAnonCasualties/

      • Charles Manson murdered people because he was inspired by the beaters.

        Better ban them too

        • The beaters? (Beatles) did not inspire Manson to murder people. He could,however, use his misinterpretation of Helter Skelter as an excuse to justify his own warped ideas and to help recruit cult followers.

        • The CIA was also involved in facilitating Manson’s antics in order to discredit the civil rights movement.

  13. The ones that care are those whom have an interest in how you think and behave. This is the source of their power; to cage and feed on your mind.

  14. Brian,

    Where is this QAnon stuff coming from? It’s puzzling.

    If it’s a conspiracy theory why waste any life referencing it?

    Life is short man, don’t waste it on fluff.

    • Weird … the site errored on this one yet it’s here?

    • There must be some truth to it if they try to censor it so hard that even somebody that used to be nonpolitical is talking about it.

      • https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Galileo_gambit

        Nope, censorship generally has nothing to do with with whether something is true or not.

        It has more to do with the possible damage it may cause if people see/believe it.
        For the Catholic Church in Galileo’s time, they foresaw harm to the faith of the church members.

        But everyone who peddles in lies, will falsely compare themselves to Galileo.
        Making it seem that censorship is evidence of truth.
        But the reality is, that its evidence of harm. But since its not the church that is censoring, then you have to ask, “is the harm to the public real”.
        In the case of far right extremists, it is absolutely harmful.

        For example, should Hamas be allowed to post extremist rhetoric on social media accessible in the US? Is there potential for harm if they succeed in radicalizing new terrorist cells?
        Even if you believe they should not be censored… would the attempts by the US to take down Hamas sites, be evidence that the teachings of radical Islam is true.

        So ask yourself, because violent jihadist are similarly censored in the US… do you think “there must be some truth to it”???

      • The only truth is how dense you are.

  15. Brian,

    What’s up with these last two articles?

    Why waste life on something that is proclaimed as nonsense?

    • “Nonsense?” Flynn swore an oath on camera, denigrating his own,
      to this latest retard cinnamon challenge psy-op from Russia.

      This is people believing propaganda over science/fact/reality.
      Millions. Too many of them. In a rule-by-plurality. See it yet?

      These people are failing an internet IQ test. It could be lethal.

      • I take issue with the notion that the people following Q are dumb. I think the problem is more that they know in their guts that the system is deeply rotten, but don’t have a way to reason about it (historical materialism, for example), so they’re susceptible to absurd and contradictory explanations. Democrat voters with Russia-gate are another example of this.

        • I agree that these believers are not “dumb”… but they are susceptible to propaganda. I think most are. The crazier the conspiracy though, the more susceptible the person would have to be. Some would call the people past this point, “sheep”.

          Intelligence is hard to measure objectively. And many are intelligent. But resistance to conspiracy theory requires a specific type of intelligence, a resiliance and dedication to rational thinking. Let’s be honest, this isn’t taught much in school beyond basic philosophy and critical thinking.

          But there is an asymmetry here. It is generally known that higher education does at least correlate with liberalism. And there does seem to be a causual relationship between education and resistance to conspiracies.
          But you’re correct, there are many left wing conspiracies. Anti-vaxxers are more on the left, than the right for example. Liberals who believe in the Russian pee-pee tape is another example. However, there is definitely some unethical behavior going on with Russian and Ukraine, so that explains why people are primed to believe the conspiracies.

          I don’t believe personally in the conspiracies involving POTUS… but the factual evidence still shows immoral and unethical practices that should meet the criteria for removal, even without believing in some conspiracy.

          • "Being dumb as valid opinion"

            Susceptible to DUMB propaganda = DUMB, period.

            Or did you think Hillary Clinton eats children? Seriously.

            If you’re simplistic enough to not be able to critically counter that,
            you might be dumb. I’m not saying it as insult but as information.

            • Believing in weird nonsense despite lack of evidence is a staple of the human condition. Are all children dumb for believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy? Or, are they just normal children?

              If you ever believed in any deity or supernatural force, congratulations you are a part of the human race. Not really dumb, just human.

              Trying to classify people into broad generalizations, such as dumb or intelligent… It’s actually a form of ignorance in itself.

              • ” Are all children dumb for believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy? Or, are they just normal children?”

                Are we talking about adults or 6 year olds who vote?

                • I’m talking about anyone who has belief without evidence.

                  Our brains are wired to believe all manner of nonsense.
                  Children grow out of many of the silly fantasies, but adults do persist in the same ‘type’ of thinking that allows them to believe in nonsense.

                  • In a word : wrong.

                    “Our brains are wired to believe all manner of nonsense.”

                    Is a nonsense Tautology.

                    People are individual, morons abound.

                    • I’m not seeing any rebuttal here. Do you have something other than, “nah uh”?

                    • “Our brains are wired to believe all manner of nonsense.”

                      = Apologism

                    • No, its just facts and the cold hard truth about human psychology. Your ego wants you to think yourself superior because you don’t believe in one thing or another… but we ALL believe something factually untrue. Not just supernatural stuff, but regular comforting lies. Its part of our nature.

                      Evolutionary, it actually benefits us to skew toward certain nonsense that is not true.
                      Better safe than sorry.

  16. If you’re looking for a reason to switch from comments to webmentions, the QAnon cultists coming out the woodwork in response to this post is a good one.

  17. It is asinine to quell free speech of any kind. Krebs has gone downhill from being a somewhat reputable security source to a left wing stifle freedom of expression and thought shill. 8kun, 8chan and the rest are juvenile in their diatribe, have goofy jokes and have fun. The fact that everyone is up in arms about them is hilarious. They haven’t killed anyone, unlike blm and antifa, haven’t proposed killing anyone, unlike blm and antifa and are harmless. You elitists disgust me.

    • “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
      ― George Orwell, 1984

      Thanks for your contribution, krebs.

    • “It is asinine to quell free speech of any kind”

      Ok. That’s, like, your opinion, man.

      encyclopedia. com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/time-place-and-manner-restrictions

      So Law is ‘asinine’ – upheld, Constitutionally-valid law. K.
      You’re Trump’s new lawyer or what lol? Best of luck.

    • That’s untrue, Mr. Strode. The Supreme Court itself ruled many years ago that freedom of speech stops the moment you incite violence or otherwise intend to create violence. You are not permitted to yell, “Fire!” in a movie theater for example. I agree free speech is critically important, but I also agree there must be limits. We can disagree about whether QAnon has cost people lives and many people believe it has. AND the moment the FBI labeled QAnon a terrorism threat, they entered the realm of incitement to violence and as such should no longer have the same free speech protections as you or I. If you want to be consistent, then you would have to agree that an anti-US terrorist group should be allowed to open a storefront and recruit in the States. If you can honestly say you’d allow that, you’re a more fierce protector of free speech than me and I would respect that.

    • I wonder what Mr. Strode’s feelings about doxing are. If someone were to get Mr. Strode’s personal information — home address, SSN, passwords, bank account numbers — and publish them, would he shrug and say “oh well, that’s free speech for you”? (This is not a threat, I don’t have his info, and I don’t know anyone who does.)

    • Strode, if you already believe the rhetoric about BLM and Antifa, then you will never accept any facts regarding Qanon. Yes, there is a benign side to Qanon… but their very MO of accepting any free speech no matter how distasteful, has drawn in every manner of white supremicist, anti-semite, hateful person, as a refuge. So this is what Qanon has become, is now, and will forever be known for. Because you can’t kick the violent extremists out once they’re in.

      Ironically enough, this is exactly what you do.
      You define BLM and Antifa by their worst possible/alleged conduct. Even if 99% are peaceful, that 1% of violence is how you will forever hate BLM and Antifa.

      So now, Qanon will have the same fate.
      Thus is the fate of any overly inclusive organization that cannot control who joins or claims to be a member. So congrats, you think you support only the parts of Qanon that never hurt anyone, but you inevitably support their worst parts that have caused harm and will continue.

  18. over “legal contracts”? which granted these companies ….what “legal internet space”? are we talking about.? Amazon has taken over the internet with 5 of 10 search results. Popularity ?

  19. Thanks Brian. This whole Q business has gotten out of control, the lying and disinformation are killing people and ripping apart families. For those complaining in the comments I would recommend reading about and especially visiting the source of it all, 8kun. 99% of associated with this “movement” would be interested to know that secret agent “Q” communicates entirely through a board which caters to whiny nihilist virgins and adult diaper wearers who also frequently involve the site in the mass-shootings they engage in.

    I’m old enough to remember the saying, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” The collective disillusion of a group believing that a man, who for 20 years was best friend with a sex trafficker, is somehow going to “take down the cabal” of pedophilia in elite circles proves how far we’ve diverted from this notion.

    I’m a believer that disinformation should be considered within the framework of malware, only now we’re dealing with malware that has the capacity to scramble people’s brains. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to any of this, but its clearly a problem.

    • +42

      I agree completely that mal-information (disinformation) should be classified just like malware.

      The brains of humans can be hacked in ways known for centuries, and there is no real way to patch. Awareness helps, but isn’t foolproof. The problem is that ego prevents people from even accepting that there are vulnerabilities in their own minds.

  20. The penalty for allowing a business license to lapse is not that all of the entity’s contracts are void. What is this, one weird trick that creditors hate?

    There’s a difference between letting a business license lapse and dissolving a business entity.

    • Precisely. That seems to be the bit that Ron G and Krebs, as well as several commenters, don’t quite get. The consequences are not nearly as severe as they imagine. This is far less of a consequential “gotcha” than they might like to think.

      States suspend corporate registrations for failure to file reports or pay business privilege taxes all the time, because people routinely forget or ignore these obligations. Do you know what happens? Nothing. Often for years, absolutely nothing.

      And then a company with a suspended or canceled registration gets involved in a lawsuit, or a merger, or a sale, or something else that causes someone doing due diligence to check the records. What happens then? The company says “Oops, my bad,” files the missing reports, pays the outstanding business privilege taxes, or at most is made to register again. And then life carries on as usual.

      Because in practical terms, automatic “dissolution” for failure to comply with reporting or business privilege tax requirements doesn’t actually do much of anything. No one is going out and seizing assets on the basis of what the state Secretary of State’s corporate registration website says about a company’s status. If creditors want to enforce their obligations they still have to either sue or file a petition to place the company in an involuntary bankruptcy.

      • OK, so here’s the thing…

        Q: What is one of the few things we know for sure about the people behind all of this crap, including but not limited to the Watkins’, Jim and Ron?

        A: They are extreme right-leaning libertarians.

        Now, in the case of the owners of the two networks discussed in this blog post by Brian, neither has apparently lifted a finger to comply with their legal obligations relating to the registrations of their companies in literally YEARS.

        Given that, and given their general attitudes towards government, I think it is not at all improper to ask the obvious question: Have these companies also and likewise been operating for years on end while utterly stiffing their respective states of the state business taxes that legitimate and law abiding companies have to pay? If so, then what makes them so special that they can get away with this, and can continue to profit from their online businesses, while every actual legitimate business has to pay its fair share?

        Are the proprietors of these networks in fact parasites and freeloaders? Are they exempt from paying state taxes, or following ANY governmental rules at all that apply to the rest of us, simply because they believe themselves to be “sovereign citizens”?

  21. Among other claims, these sites promotes the bizarre notions that liberals control everything, and government destroys freedom.

    They set up sites to spread garbage, and encouraged others to help. They controlled that. They had that freedom.

    Years later, after gross administrative neglect, with no legal basis to continue, they still exploit all that IP territory. The content presented there has, at best, degraded humanity and, at worst, bred domestic terrorism. Eventually — perhaps soon — some individual citizens may bring it down. For years, though, their fantasy liberal controllers and imaginary government destroyers didn’t bring it down.

    We’re left to wonder which is stronger among Watkin’s cult: disdain for society, or ignorance of reality.

    • “Among other claims, these sites promotes the bizarre notions that liberals control everything, and government destroys freedom.”

      You left out the part about the lizard people who are running the government.

  22. Tipper Gore/Brian Krebs for 2024.
    campaign slogan.
    “we decide what websites are best for you, so you don’t have too”

    • The same people who lied saying Brexit would save Britain 350 million in the first year health care costs alone.

      The same people who own a lot of Donald Trump’s debt.

      #Justbrutalcoincidences.

  23. Enrique Bellevacqua

    I don’t think it follows that when a business is “defunct” in the eyes of the state that contracts entered into by that business are suddenly invalidated. Private rights and obligations established by contract don’t disappear simple because a business hasn’t met a regulatory obligation.

  24. I think of these cra cra conspiracy sites in the same way as some industrial polluter discharging toxic waste into water.

    The only difference is that these nutcases (or foreign govs) are polluting our collective conscientiousness.

    Either case it needs to be stopped.

  25. Robert Scroggins

    There is a difference between free speech and lies.
    The former is/should be allowed.
    The latter should be removed from viewing by the public.

    Regards,

    • If I correctly recall from GOV101 free speech includes lies, too.

      • It’s not a matter of Truth vs lie. It’s a matter of potential for harm.

        The truth, even if harmful, is usually protected as people will accept a harmful truth.
        But if a lie is harmful, then it’s usually NOT protected by freedom of speech.

        which is why the courts specifically mentioned yelling fire in a crowded theater is not protected speech. Of course, if there really is a fire, then nobody is going to prosecute the person who calls it out.

        But if the it’s a lie, and there is no fire, then that is not protected speech. And if that speech has harmful consequences, they cannot hide behind they’re right a free speech.

        Words have consequences. expressing an opinion or conveying an idea is very different than speech that results in harmful consequence.

        It’s probably time you revisit civics 101.

  26. When people ask me what I think about this “Q” problem; I just suggest that even if it were true, the details are so convoluted, that one would be better off simply putting their faith in God, and that evil will destroy itself to His Glorification, and quit worrying about conspiracy theories. Just like listening to neighborhood gossip; reacting to such is pointless, and better off ignored.

  27. Thanks for this article Brian.

    8kun (8chan), before it was the Q spawning pool, was already in trouble for tolerating child abuse on the site: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/08/8chan-hosted-content-disappears-from-google-searches/

    From there, we have somehow arrived at droves of old racists clamoring for the next conspiracy about child trafficking rings… Conspiracy theories being propagated by the owner of a website which, in fact, accommodates child predators. Stupidity knows no bounds.

    I’m strongly against any form of censorship, but as a society I think we can at least agree that *actual* child predators do not deserve a platform.

  28. On the anonymousaccountability spread, a nudge toward accountability is needed.

  29. Damn! Nice catch. A lot of crap comes out of 206 and 207…

    Interesting that they went to a DDoS mitigation service that originates in St. Petersburg. If you’ve been in IT security for a while and have gone to darker areas of the web, that they did so should raise some eyebrows and flags. Reading between the lines, that is, as to what that possibly implies.

    • That was noticed. They ran to Russia to protect the sites.

      Why Russia? Is there some kind of need for those sites that only Russia is interested in protecting?

      The disinformation campaigns being run out of Russia to influence Americans seem to be related to these same sites.

  30. Odd how so many of you technical guys don’t understand simple concepts like Confirmation Bias and the Streisand Effect.

    Unless you guys are really pro-Trump. In which case, well-played.

    • Trump is headed to prison.

      If you think dehosting 8chan = Streissanding them, you are wrong.

      Different concepts. Different results. Nobody new is going there because they have been recently dehosted.

      Know your memes better.