American pressure to dissuade companies in the US from supporting the WikiLeaks website has led to an online backlash in which individuals are redirecting parts of their own sites to its Swedish internet host.
Since early on Friday morning, it has been impossible to reach WikiLeaks by typing wikileaks.org into a web browser because everyDNS, which would redirect queries for the string "wikileaks.org" to that machine address, removed its support for Wikileaks, claiming that it had broken its terms of service by being the target of a huge hacker attack. (See What is DNS?)
Without a DNS record, it is only possible to reach WikiLeaks by typing in the string of numbers which, for most web users, is too unmemorable to make it feasible.
That, campaigners say, points to the principal weakness in the internet's pyramidial DNS setup, where a limited number of site registrars can control whether a site is findable by name or not.
Website hosts are being encouraged to add a "/wikileaks" directory into their sites, redirecting to which redirects to http://18.104.22.168/, run by the Swedish hosting company Bahnhof.
At present, that location redirects users to a Wikleaks page at http://22.214.171.124/, which is run by a French company, but if pressure from the French government pushes Wikileaks off that host, it will still have the Swedish location.
At the same time, scores of sites "mirroring" WikiLeaks have sprung up – by lunchtime today, the list was 74-strong and contained sites that have the same content as WikiLeaks and – crucially – link to the downloads of its leaks of 250,000 US diplomatic cables.
The backlash has also gained its own tag on the microblogging service Twitter, where people who have linked to the main site are using the hashtag #imwikileaks.
The technical details of how to make a site's subdirectory point directly to the WikiLeaks site are described by Paul Carvill, a British developer, and Jamie McClelland.
"I've done this as a simple gesture of my support for WikiLeaks and my opposition to arbitrary censorship of the web by governments and corporations," Carvill says on his page, while McLelland says that adding his support "seems like a good way for us all to really pitch in and share the risk that the folks at WikiLeaks are taking all by themselves".