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Freenode IRC operators perform mass seizure of channels for mentioning Liberachat


I did not personally witness the following takeovers, and the following are therefore logs provided to me by other parties, which nonetheless serve to demonstrate the widespread and indiscriminate nature of this seizure:

Other channels which have been seized in the same fashion include some of my own channels, for example #acmetool, though I was no longer on the channel to witness the seizure:

07:09 <hl> info #acmetool
07:09 -- ChanServ: Information on #acmetool:
07:09 -- ChanServ: Founder    : freenode-placeholder-account
07:09 -- ChanServ: Registered : May 26 03:07:52 2021 (3h 2m 2s ago)
07:09 -- ChanServ: *** End of Info ***


My analysis is as follows:


It seems to me that the findings above at this point only hasten the urgency of evacuating Freenode. Even if a channel finds the Hotel California-style attitude that Freenode's new custodians are taking to the prospect of any channel leaving Freenode to be acceptable (and I cannot imagine why they would), since Freenode now sees fit to enforce this via automated systems based purely on heuristics, no channel is necessarily safe. Even channels which have been registered for years, which are in continuous use and which are wholly compliant Freenode policies can have their registrations seized and the channel forcibly shut if they offend an automated system's heuristic.

Privacy implications. Furthermore, it should be noted that this automated channel takeover system, in taking over some channel #x, configures a channel forward to ##x. However, it has been noted that since channels do not have +s (secret; hide from channel listings) by default, by creating ##x for every channel #x which is seized by this automated system, this reveals publicly in the channel listings the existence of channels which otherwise would have been secret and concealed from public channel listings. So the above is not only a disaster in its own terms, it also may have had the effect of revealing the existence of numerous unlisted channels and undermining their privacy. Not only that, because people attempting to join the original channel #x get automatically forwarded to the channel ##x, anyone can determine who attempts to join the original channel simply by joining ##x, allowing the members of a secret channel to be leaked.1

1. If this is concerning to you, you can mitigate this by setting user mode +Q, which makes you immune to channel forwarding. Note that you will need to make sure it is set every time you connect.

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