Attempts by Atos to close down or remove content from websites hostile to their company appear to have backfired badly. Most of the sites are now back online and the campaign has produced negative coverage on the web and in the press, as well as criticism from a highly influential MP. Meanwhile, what is probably the worst offending website continues to publish with seeming impunity.

Over recent weeks we have covered the disappearance of three websites following interventions by Atos lawyers.

In June we reported that the After Atos website had received a ‘​cease and desist’​ notice from Atos lawyers, relating in particular to the use of the Atos logo with a slogan the company strongly objected to. The site closed down shortly afterwards, although this seems in part to have been due to a dispute between the site owner and the webmaster.

However, although the site has gone, the defaced Atos logo which the company particularly objected to has been published widely on the web as a symbol of defiance, along with parodied versions of a new Atos logo.

On 18 August we reported that The Atos Register of Sh*** website was closed by hosts Amazon after a letter from Atos lawyers claimed that the name of the site was defamatory.

However, the site owner vowed not to be silenced. Within weeks the site had been reborn as a wordpress blog and has now begun publishing accounts of people’​s experiences of Atos medicals, something they had threatened to do previously but not actually put into practice.

The most startling closure came on 20 August, however, when we reported that the eminently respectable Carer Watch had had its forum closed by its hosting company following a letter from Atos lawyers.

Carer Watch were particularly outraged that vulnerable members of their online community had been left bereft by the sudden disappearance of the forum and had no way of finding out what had happened.

As Carer Watch explained:

“​We have many members who are very fragile and the sudden disappearance of a support group has caused a lot of distress and fear. Some are ringing us in tears. We cannot get in contact with all of them though as we have lost their contact details through the closure."​

They contacted Atos who were perhaps now rather shell shocked by the amount of attention their activities were receiving. Atos claimed that they had never wished for the forum to be closed and accepted that it had caused distress to users.

Carer Watch may be a small and completely unfunded organisation, but they have many friends, some of them in high places. Within days reports of the closure were appearing in the press everywhere from Community Care magazine to the Daily Mirror. Anne Begg, Chair of the Work and Pensions committee was openly critical in the press of the way that Atos was dealing with its detractors.

It transpired that it was just a single, five month old post linking to another site that Atos objected to. Carer Watch agreed to remove the post and their forum has now been reinstated. Many observers will wonder why, if Atos did not want the forum closed, they did not simply contact Carer Watch and ask for the post to be removed rather than going directly to the owners of the server.

You can read the full exchange of correspondence between Carer Watch and Atos here.

The Johnny Void website has since claimed that it was the source of the article that was linked to in the Carer Watch forum. The article was heavily critical of Atos and their relations with German company Siemens and included an altered reproduction of a pre-war Nazi poster.

Astonishingly, whilst Atos pursued the Carer Watch forum for reproducing this blog post, the original post is still on the Johnny Void blog along with many others articles attacking Atos.

The damage to Atos is not over yet. The company’​s web censoring activities featured on a 12 minute slot on Al Jazeera’​s The Stream programme, giving much appreciated publicity to a representative of the Black Triangle Anti-Defamation League, John McArdle.

In addition, a National Day of Action against Atos is being organised for 30th September, when Atos will be attempting to recruit more doctors at the BMJ Recruitment Fair in Islington.

Worse still, Anne Begg has already been calling for an end to the company’​s monopoly on carrying out medicals for the DWP. This apparent show of corporate force against its critics is only likely to strengthen her hand and increase the chances of a company like G4S –​ who are already carrying out pilot medicals in relation to the proposed replacement for DLA –​ getting a share of the action and of the profits.


Write comments...
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.