Reveal date: Dec 3 2002 Status: Complete Tagged: Bhopal, Dow, Industrial Disaster

On Dec. 3, 2002, the eighteenth anniversary of the Union Carbide (i.e. Dow) disaster at Bhopal, a press release was sent out by Dow-Chemical.com, telling Dow's story more honestly than Dow ever does.

 

It explained why Dow (and Union Carbide) have always refused to take responsibility for the disaster, and have never seen fit to offer any more than $500 compensation per victim. Response was overwhelming.

 

Then, on Dec. 4, after business hours and when nobody was on hand to deal with it, Verio shut down the entire Thing.net network, which hosts innumerable activist, artist, and other websites and bulletin boards (as well as Dow-Chemical.com). Verio did this in response to the DMCA notice that they had received the day before. (This has happened before.* Also see this article of what DMCA tends to mean for small ISPs like Thing.net.)

 

Finally, on Dec. 6, mysteriously, it suddenly turned out that Dow-Chemical.com belonged to Dow! (See Gandi.net whoisresults.) How did this happen?

 

Well, when we'd registered Dow-Chemical.com with Gandi.net about two weeks before, we'd thought it would be really funny to put down James Parker, son of the Dow CEO, as owner of the domain. We even put down Parker's real home address! Funny, right?

 

Yes! And on Dec. 4, James Parker himself, with the help of Dow lawyers, sent a xerox of his driver's license and a letter by FedEx to Gandi.net, saying, basically, "This domain belongs to me. See, that's my home address, too. Give it to me!" According to the rules of ICANN, Parker was correct, and Gandi.net had no legal choice but to hand it over. Very creative work there, Jimmy!** (Termination notice here.)

 

In any case, just in case Dow thought such heavy-handed tactics would work, we released Reamweaver, making it much easier to copy and alter websites on the fly.

 

*The same thing happened back in the Toywar, when eToys issued a DMCA to Verio, and Verio shut down the whole Thing.net network--but only for 3 hours. The WTO also issued a DMCA to Verio regarding GATT.org about a year ago, but Verio did nothing, and stated that the DMCA was not relevant to it, since it was not Verio that was the host, but merely the upstream provider. Score on the Verio esteem-meter: WTO 0; eToys 3 [hours network down]; Dow 16 [hours network down].

 

**It's really funny, but also really awful how Dow, the son of Dow, and Verio can just put sooooo much energy and creativity into making sure this little image problem gets minimized, whereas they can't possibly be bothered to do something about the basic problem they're faced with: DEAD PEOPLE. SICK PEOPLE. TOXIC MESS.

 

 

By buying Union Carbide, Dow acquired Union Carbide's liability and responsibility, in a legal sense, and in a common-sense sense. And yet they absolutely refuse to accept it: "What we cannot and will not do... is accept responsibility for the Bhopal accident" (November 28, 2002 memo previously posted on Dow).

 

Dow is using every trick in the books to squeak by—just like it did with our "son of Dow" goof—and is letting Bhopal rot in the meantime.

 

The problem here isn't just one of principle: it also means that eighteen years later, the Bhopal site remains contaminated, and no one accepts the responsibility for cleaning it up. Dow would rather wipe an entire activist and artistic network right off the face of the internet, weasel their way into ownership of a critical website, etc., instead of just doing the right thing and dealing with Bhopal.

Active dates:
Dec 2002