It seems GE isn’t laughing about the hoax implemented by the Yes Men and US Uncut. Yesterday, the activist groups posted a fake press release allegedly from GE stating the company intended to donate its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury. The website, genewscenters.com, is a fake website hosted by BlueHost (the real GE-owned website is genewscenter.com).
GE immediately demanded the hoax website be taken down, which US Uncut views as an attack on their freedom of speech. Bryan Fansler, GE’s deputy chief information security officer, contacted Bluehost and, according to US Uncut, “waved some scary sounding legal phrases,” and successfully got Bluehost to take down the site for “a combination of Phishing, Copyright and Trademark infringement.”
Duncan Meisel, a US Uncut representative, calls this a violation of the group’s First Amendment rights. “[Fansler] isn’t a lawyer,” says Meisel. “This is a case of straight-up intimidation to silence criticism of one of America’s largest and most important corporations.”
Furthermore, Meisel believes there is precedent to use GE’s likeness in a satirical fashion. “Our right to fair use of their logo, copyright and trademarks is far more well established than their shady tax strategy,” says Meisel, adding US Uncut intends to fight the removal of the website.
In other budgetary news, thousands rallied at Michigan’s Capitol in opposition to educations cuts and pension taxes, and support the rights of workers to collectively bargain.