On Dec. 23, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge James Hurley ordered domain-registering firms and provide hosting services- GoDaddy Inc., Network Solutions, Comcast Cable Communications Inc. and DiscountASP.Net, to disable the three sites, ITgrunt.com, Endh1b.com, and Guestworkerfraud.com.
Facebook Inc. was also ordered to disable ITgrunt's Facebook page.
DiscountASP.Net said it has disabled Endh1b.com after it received the order from the New Jersey Superior Court. The order did not request any account information, only that the company "...immediately shut down and disable the website www.endh1b.com until further order of this court..," a spokesman said in an email.
Facebook said it also received the document.
GoDaddy is complying with the order too and has suspended the web hosting for ITgrunt.com.
The web site Endh1b.com is registered but not hosted at Go Daddy. Both domain names have been placed on registrar lock due to the pending litigation. When Go Daddy receives a court order, it is standard procedure to comply.
Hurley's order was made in response to a libel lawsuit filed by IT services and consulting firm Apex Technology Group Inc., based in Edison, N.J. against the three Web sites opposing the H-1B visa program.
The issue is creating a stir among H-1B opponents working in IT-related jobs who fear that their posts could result in the loss of their jobs.
The company is seeking the identity of a person who posted an Apex employment agreement on Docstoc.com, that has since been removed. A link to the document and comments critical of it has been posted on a variety of Web sites, including at least one in India, on Desicrunch.com. The comment broadly alleges that employees will find it difficult to leave Apex because of its employment contract terms.
Apex, in one legal filing, said the allegations by the anonymous posters are false and defamatory, and were hurting the company. In the filing, Apex said it "has had three consultants refuse to report for employment" due to the postings, according to legal documents.
Apex said it is also seeking "contact details of the individual who posted this legal agreement without permission since we are the copyright owner of the legal document."
Accoring to court documents, a writer responding to firstname.lastname@example.org wrote that the site has "not posted a legal agreement and don't have the contact details of anyone of our contributors. We will also protect the privacy of any members of our community."
Patrick Papalia, an attorney representing Apex, said that the company has already identified an employee who left the initial comment. But he said the issue goes well beyond the agreement and involves threatening and racist comments against company officials, as well as ongoing allegations that it is engaging in illegal activities. "Apex has an outstanding reputation in the information technology field," he said.
John Miano, who heads the Programmers Guild and is also an attorney, and who one represented one the parties involved in the dispute, said it is "rather chilling" to have a court in New Jersey ordering the shutdown of Web sites operated by people with no connection to New Jersey.
The operator of Guestworkerfraud.com linked to ITgrunt.com's blog entry and said he added some comments of his own. He doesn't allow comments on this site. He has since removed the entry concerning Apex. He says he won't let the New Jersey judge "run the Internet and silence free speech by shutting down the whole site. Hence, my site is still up." He asked that his name not be used, in response to an email.