The Dark Overlord, a hacker group that leaked Netflix episodes from Orange is the New Black, has been leaking files from law firms connected with 9/11 insurance litigation. The group has been releasing the documents online in exchange for Bitcoin payments, and has been banned by Steemit, Reddit, and Twitter. The group is still posting updates on the Steem blockchain, but their posts can’t be viewed on Steemit, and some of their posts are now being removed from other Steem frontends too. You can read more about The Dark Overlord’s posts, background, and claims on Heavy’s story here. To learn about the banning and what happened, continue reading.
The Dark Overlord Was Banned on Steemit for Violating TOS, After Being Banned on Reddit & Twitter
The Steemit banning caught some people by surprise, but it turns out that The Dark Overlord’s posts were violating Steemit’s Terms of Service. Because the posts were made on the Steem blockchain, they can still be accessed through other frontends besides Steemit, like Busy.org.
The Dark Overlord group began making new posts on the Steem blockchain after being banned by Twitter and Reddit. On Reddit, not only was The Dark Overlord user itself banned, but so were some users who posted about The Dark Overlord or shared links to The Dark Overlord’s content.
It didn’t take long before Steemit banned The Dark Overlord too. This banning means that users cannot view the threads through the Steemit frontend application. All previous threads and new posts are still on the blockchain and are still viewable through other sources like Busy.org.
You can see the reasoning behind Steemit’s banning in a code change and discussion on Github here or in the screenshot below.
From the discussion, it appears that The Dark Overlord group is one of four users who have been banned from Steemit due to TOS violations. Jredbeard commented several days ago about The Dark Overlord: “Adding user to list due to ToS violation of steemit.com.”
One Steemit user, krnel, shared a post elaborating on why The Dark Overlord was likely banned. Steemit added Terms of Service in 2018. These Terms include, in part: “We may suspend or terminate your access to the Services in our sole discretion, immediately and without prior notice, and delete or deactivate your steemit.com account and all related information and files in such without cost to you, including, for instance, if you breach any term of this Agreement… When accessing or using the Services, you agree that you will not commit any unlawful act, and that you are solely responsible for your conduct while using our Services…”
One of the violations listed in the terms is: “Use our Services to pay for, support or otherwise engage in any activity prohibited by law, including, but not limited to illegal gambling, fraud, money-laundering, or terrorist financing activities.”
Prior to the banning, Steemit users were already questioning some of The Dark Overlord’s tactics. The group had started releasing leaks on Steemit not related to 9/11, and they were criticized on Steemit for posting documents from a plastic surgery clinic.
Some of the Dark Overlord’s Posts Have Been Removed by Other Steem Frontends, like Busy.org & SteemPeak, for Copyright or Privacy Violations
Busy.org, which is another Steem frontend like Steemit, hasn’t banned The Dark Overlord entirely. However, they have removed some of the group’s posts. One post, which was criticized on Steemit when it was first released, contained leaks and photos from a plastic surgery clinic. If you go to that address on Busy.org now, you see a note that simply reads: “Content removed due to DMCA notice.” Here’s what the page looks like.
Meanwhile, Steempeak.com, another Steem frontend, has removed all of The DarkOverlord’s posts due to copyright and/or privacy violations.
The group was still releasing files in exchange for Bitcoin payments two days ago. At the time, it seemed that their main focus was posting on Busy.org, which they used as their link for updates. However, since they haven’t posted in two days, it’s unclear if these copyright takedowns might cause them to move to leave entirely. You can track how many Bitcoin payments have been made to the group at this link. So far that address has received 3.384 BTC total. However, it’s tough to track which of those payments are related to 9/11 because they also accept payments there for non-9/11 leaks, according to one of their Steem posts about a Cayman Papers leak. Steemit user kirkins wrote on Steemit in response to that post: “Why are you using the same BTC address as the 9/11 dump?” The group hasn’t responded to that question yet.
People viewing the released files have noted that the files all pertained to insurance litigation. This litigation involved attorneys’ trying to find reasons that a third party might have to cover some of the liability for 9/11, rather than the insurance company paying a full settlement. This might be due to inadequate security or services that, from a legal standpoint, might have mitigated some of the damage from 9/11. The initial document release seemed to be mostly about insurance companies seeking not to have to pay their full claim. Some documents also revealed how much different entities requested in insurance payments and how much they received.
Since being banned on Steemit, The Dark Overlord group released a second layer of information two days ago, but hasn’t posted to Steem since.