Researchers of online extremism were given a treasure trove of information following the hack and release of documents from Epik, a provider of internet services which rose to prominence working for those who had been kicked off other platforms.
"The breach of Epik's internal records has cast a spotlight on a long-hidden corner of the Internet's underworld, and researchers expect it could take months before they can process the full cache — the equivalent of tens of millions of pages. Many are digging for information on who owns and administers extremist domains about which little was previously known," The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Extremism researcher Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the nonprofit Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, explained the importance of the lead to the newspaper.
"This is like the mother of all data lodes because Epik was at the center of so many of the extremist websites and organizations that people like me study. Epik was the place of last refuge for a lot of these sites," said Beirich, co-founder of the nonprofit Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. "And as the data is analyzed and looked at more deeply, we're going to see this ecosystem in a way that was simply not possible before."
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The leak is also shedding light on the law enforcement response to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump seeking to overturn the 2020 election, which was won by Joe Biden.
"The data includes internal memos describing apparent subpoenas from law-enforcement agencies for information about Epik-registered websites, including two domains, Thedonald.win and Maga.host, in the weeks after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6," the newspaper reported. "One of the internal notes, which appeared to have been written by an Epik employee, mentions a grand jury subpoena, a request to preserve records for 90 days and a nondisclosure order — a court-approved document that law enforcement can secure to prohibit tech companies from telling customers what information they'd shared as part of an investigation. 'DO NOT tell Registrant,' read the note, which did not include further details of the investigation."
Read the full report.