Canadian government sees Yes Men’s Copenhagen hoax dismantled
Two Web sites that aimed to shame the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (December 7 to 18) have been shut down. According to a media release issued by the Yes Men—who launched the elaborate ruse on December 14—the government of Canada used “strong-arm tactics” to have the sites deactivated.
In a telephone interview, Yes Men member Mike Bonanno described the federal government’s behavior as a “paranoid response to criticism”.
He supplied the Straight with e-mails allegedly sent from government officials to the relevant Web site hosting company and Internet service provider.
Those messages indicate that Environment Canada initially contacted PiWeb, the company hosting the Yes Men’s Web sites related to the hoax. Then, when no action was taken, the Department of Public Safety’s Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre contacted Serverloft, the Internet service provider used by PiWeb.
Here are those e-mails, presented by the CCIRC in reverse chronological order. (Some contact information has been removed.)
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2009 09:34:37 -0500
Subject: CCIRC CE09-2616 [Deactivation Request]
The Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) is requesting your assistance in a matter concerning the Government of Canada.
Below is a request, from The Office of Intellectual Property, Environment Canada, requesting the deactivation of two websites that are impersonating Environment Canada/Government of Canada.
There are 2 domains of concern, specifically:
Both of these sites are hosted on IP 188.8.131.52 - AS8972 using Serverloft hosting services.
The hosting provider has not removed the pages, as requested.
Therefore, CCIRC is requesting your assistance in having these sites deactivated.
Please advise if you can assist.
Thanks very much,
Note: Original request from Environment Canada Intellectual Property Office below.
Cyber Duty Officer
Public Safety Canada
Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC)
Subject: Infringement of Environment Canada trademarks, copyright and phishing of the official ec.gc.ca website
To whom it may concern:
I am writing on behalf of the Minister of Environment to demand that you promptly delete and remove the website "enviro-canada.ca" and "ec-gc.ca" which have been confirmed to be currently hosted on your servers. We make this demand because this website infringes Environment Canada's Intellectual Property and acts as a phishing site to the official Departmental website.
By way of background, this website is directly connected to a hoax which misleads people into believing that the Government of Canada will take certain actions in relation to environmental matters. In addition to containing false statements, the websites contain links to other false statements, all as part of the hoax. While it is evident to the Department of the Environment that this website was created as part of the hoax, the same will not be evident to most users of this infringing and false website.
We trust you appreciate the importance of avoiding confusion among the public concerning Canadian governmental affairs and that you will assist us in preventing this hoax from spreading further. In addition, we ask that you make every effort to prevent any further attempts concerning other environment-related domains (enviro, ec-gc, etc.) originating from your servers.
Please confirm at your earliest convenience your deletion and removal of these websites.
Should you have any questions regarding this issue, please feel free to contact me anytime.
We thank you for your attention to this matter.
Manager, Intellectual Property Office Environnement Canada
According to the Yes Men’s media release, Serverloft responded to the CCIRC’s message by blocking a large number of IP addresses used by PiWeb, which resulted in the deactivation of 4,500 Web sites unrelated to the hoax.
The authenticity of the e-mails in question could not immediately be confirmed as neither the CCIRC’s Bruce Moore nor Environment Canada’s Mike Landreville could be reached for comment.
You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.