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XS4ALL (pronounced 'Access for all') is the second oldest ISP in the Netherlands (after NLnet). It was the first to offer internet access to private individuals. XS4ALL was established in Amsterdam by Felipe Rodriquez, Rop Gonggrijp, Paul Jongsma and Cor Bosman.
XS4ALL originated in the dutch computer underground community. Before XS4ALL there was a UUCP network, Hacktic Network and hacker BBS Utopia, to exchange Email and Usenet news. Hacktic network originated from Hack-Tic Magazine, a printed underground hackers magazine in Dutch. This network evolved into the first public unix system in the Netherlands, xs4all.nl XS4ALL quickly grew into a large full service Internet provider. The provider service separated from the hacker organization and soon after became independent.
On January 15, 1994, De Digitale Stad (The Digital City) opened, the result of a joint venture by the Amsterdam cultural center De Balie and XS4ALL. DDS was a FreeNet, a free system open to the public. The aim of DDS was to bring politics and citizens together in an online community.
XS4ALL distinguishes itself from other Dutch ISPs, in that it often takes controversial standpoints. It has taken spammers to court (making it the target for many internet vandals) and fought other courtroom battles. See for instance Scientology vs. the Internet.
XS4ALL was the organization that initiated the Dutch Internet Industry Association NLIP in 1995. Together with a large number of other Internet providers the association was created and Felipe Rodriquez CEO of XS4ALL became its chairman until 1997. As one of the leading organizations within NLIP XS4ALL has always had a strong voice against censorship regulation and against the erosion of privacy.
In december 1996 XS4ALL put the signal of Belgrade radiostation B92 on the Internet. The regular broadcasts of the station had been jammed by the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. XS4ALL had already installed a leased line to radio B92, after a request to do so from Adrienne van Heteren a Dutch citizen who went to Belgrade to setup various cultural activities. After XS4ALL had launched the online broadcast of Radio B92 its signal was picked up by the Voice of America and transmitted back into Serbia. A clear example how the Internet can be used to route around censorship.
September 1996, members of the German ICTF (Internet Content Task Force) blocked XS4ALL for about a month because on of its subscribers had put an issue of Radikal Magazine on his homepage. Radikal is illegal in Germany and to prevent its publication the German Bundesanwaltschaft ordered commercial ISPs in germany to block the homepage, they ended up blocking the entire XS4ALL website which at the time had about 6000 personal and commercial homepages. XS4ALL insisted for the case to be settled by the courts because it did not want to infringe its customers rights of free expression, but the requests to follow traditional legal paths where ignored by the German ICTF. XS4ALL then implemented several technologies to sabotage the censorship attempt such as automatically rotating the IP address of its website. The ICTF ended up censoring all IP traffic to the XS4ALL domain, including E-mail. After a couple of weeks this became untenable, a global protest against the censorship emerged, a global network of mirror websites emerged, created by the online community. The ICTF censorship attempts where cancelled after a couple of weeks.
On April 11, 1997, one of the biggest German ISPs, the DFN, a university network in Germany, started an IP-filtering blockade against XS4ALL's web site. Many protest letters were sent, mirrors were set up around the world, and the complete issue of radikal 154 was posted in the newsgroup de.soc.zensur. As a result, the blockade only lasted a few days. In The founders of XS4ALL where interrogated as suspects of publication of terrorist propaganda but no legal actions where started against them.
XS4ALL is a strong advocate of freedom of speech and therefore supports numerous journalistic projects on the internet. A small sample of organizations that are sponsored by XS4ALL can be found here: http://www.xs4all.nl/uk/overxs4all/sponsoring/index.html After Felipe Rodriquez departed as CEO he was succeeded by Wilbert Stikkelbroek, who lead the sale of the company to KPN. He resigned in 1999 and was succeeded by Doke Pelleboer who is still CEO of XS4ALL.
In December 1998, XS4ALL was sold to the Dutch telephone company KPN, but it has nonetheless kept its unique character and identity. It currently (2003) has about 200.000 subscribers. When it was sold Rodriquez became a member of the supervisory board and worked as a boardmember until 2003, in that year the board was converted into an advisory board that Rodriquez joined. Cor Bosman is the only founder that still works at XS4ALL as an employee.
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