Avaaz's "Before Monsanto uncorks the champagne" petition calling for an end to negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks mysteriously vanished today from the website prompting charges of deliberate sabotage.
It has just been restored to its original location at www.avaaz.org/en/no_champagne_for_monsanto_coff/ just after 7pm GMT - but stripped of its count of signatories which had reached over 800,000 as of last night before it went down. Signatures are still being accepted - at a rate of a signature every 2 seconds - but Avaaz is warning:
"Due to high traffic, not all Avaaz website functions are currently available. We are working hard to get the site back to its awesomeness as soon as possible."
Stop Press: as of 10.30am GMT signature rate increased to 5+ per second = over 10,000 per hour. Keep it up!
The petition is aiming to receive 1 million signatures for delivery to the governments negotiating the TPP in a final attempt to scupper the deal which campaigners say threatens food safety, health, environment and financial regulation, by allowing corporations to sue governments in secret tribunals for almost anything that infringes their right to profit.
But around midday today the petition went offline. Meanwhile an anonymous post on Slashdot reported that Avaaz had been frantically trying to restore the petition. But that when they did around 3pm GMT all the signatures had been deleted and the signature tally was reset to zero. It then remained out of action until 7pm - by which time technicians had simply removed the signature count from the page altogether.
The petition text reads: "As concerned global citizens, we call on you to make the TPP process transparent and accountable to all, and to reject any plans that limit our governments' power to regulate in the public interest. The TPP is a threat to democracy, undermining national sovereignty, workers' rights, environmental protections and Internet freedom. We urge you to reject this corporate takeover."
The accompanying text also reports: "3 countries are wobbling, and if they pull back now the whole deal could crumble. If we deluge leaders in Chile, New Zealand and Australia with a global call to stand strong, we can stop this corporate takeover before Monsanto uncorks the champagne. Sign up now and share this with everyone!"
Avaaz has yet to release any statement about the technical problems, which have not affected any other petitions.