While nobody can deny that there’s a place in any civilised society for legislation to counter libel & hate speech it is a mark of a failing society when that same legislation is used to oppress and silence the expression of serious concerns and abuse, especially when the concerns being expressed are about wholesale institutionalised abuse being carried against some of the most vulnerable in our society by a company with a £500 million contract from our government, a contract I hasten to add that the UK government is not even monitoring the compliance of despite this being a contractual obligation*1 with it being quite clear that Atos is going down this path in an attempt to avoid the same fate as it’s US sister company Unum Provident who ended up being described as running disability denial factories and dragged through the US courts for fraud, fined $35 million and ordered to reinvestigate 300,000 other refused claims; something the company has still failed to complete 7 years later, (as of 2011), whose methods and practices Atos quite clearly follows*2 with it being groups that started out as small online communities that were responsible for Unum’s eventual downfall in the US where many of it’s subsidiary companies were also banned from carrying out business in at least 13 states until 2008.
Let’s look at what Atos have done so far this year alone to stifle the truth……
In May of this year the webmaster of the website AfterAtos.Org, a website that acted as a portal to an online survey of peoples experiences at the hands of Atos received a cease & desist letter from Atos’s grandly titled UK General Counsel threatening them with legal action over comments on the website such as Atos Kills, (a statement not only made widely on the internet but painted on walls close to Atos’s headquarters and offices), Atos Healthscare, (again a statement found all over the internet), and “Please help After Atos keep a record of the abuses being carried out against the sick and disabled by Atos, with all these being comments in the eyes of tens of thousands of people in the UK that bear a more than passing resemblance to the reality of the situation with there being at least 10 deaths over the past few years where at least some culpability for could be laid at Atos’s feet*3 The webmaster of AfteAtos.Org was quite happy to take the matter to court and give Atos their very own version of the McLibel Trial*4 but then had to remove the comments from the web site after his hosting company was similarly approached and threatened to terminate his hosting account which would have meant him loosing other sites hosted on his server, some of them other peoples sites.
With a precedent set that the route to go down was not threatening individuals but website hosting companies who were not going to risk the financial cost of a major legal battle with a company who’s wealth can be counted in the billions for the pittance they received in hosting fees in early August the same Atos UK General Counsel wrote a similar letter to the hosting company of the website Atos Register of Shame, a website that exposed the Atos “Health Care Professionals” who were finding seriously ill and disabled people fit for work despite them clearly not being, a complaint that resulted in that website being pulled by it’s hosts. *5
The latest round of Atossers corporate bullying in an attempt to silence their critics arose this week when Atos yet again issued legal threats against the hosting company of 2 online forums, DWPExamination and Carer Watch*6, with both of these forums being pulled down by their hosting companies leaving many people who used these forums for invaluable support and advice stricken and upset. (The Black Triangle Campaign has since given online sanctuary to DWPExamination’s forum by hosting it on our safe Icelandic server that is thankfully beyond the legal reach of Atos – http://dwpexaminations.blacktrianglecampaign.org/index.php and has offered to do the same for Carer Watch Forum).
The above attempts to silence what are expressions of clearly legitimate concerns and comments does beg the question of what country and time do we live in with it being more reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 30’s or Stalinist Russia.
It would be interesting to hear what you the readers feel about this and your comments are invited below.