Saturday, October 09, 2004

FBI Seizes IMC Servers in the UK

Inserisci un banner sul tuo sito - Add a banner to your websitePress Release from http://indymedia.org
via softwarelivre:
FBI Seizes IMC Servers in the UK
US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace's office in the US ordering them to provide Indymedia's hardware located in London to the requesting agency. Rackspace is one of Indymedia's web hosting providers with offices in the US and London. Rackspace complied, without first notifying Indymedia, and turned over Indymedia's server in the UK. This affects some 20+ Indymedia sites worldwide.

Since the subpoena was issued to Rackspace and not to Indymedia, the reasons for this action are still unknown to Indymedia. Talking to Indymedia volunteers, Rackspace stated that "they cannot provide Indymedia with any information regarding the order." ISPs have received gag orders in similar situations which prevent them from updating the concerned parties on what is happening.

It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities.
At the same time a second server was taken down at Rackspace which provided streaming radio to several radio stations, BLAG (linux distro), and a handful of miscellanous things.

The last few months have seen numerous attacks on independent media by the US Federal Government. In August the Secret Service used a subpoena in an attempt to disrupt the NYC IMC before the RNC by trying to get IP logs from an ISP in the US and the Netherlands. Last month the FCC shut down community radio stations around the US. Two weeks ago the FBI requested that Indymedia takes down a post on the Nantes IMC that had a photo of some undercover Swiss police and IMC volunteers in Seattle were visited by the FBI on the same issue. On the other hand, Indymedia and other independent media organisations were successfull with their victories for example against Diebold and the Patroit Act. Today however, the US authorities shut down IMCs around the world.

The list of affected local media collectives includes Ambazonia, Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Western Massachusetts, Nice, Nantes, Lilles, Marseille (all France), Euskal Herria (Basque Country), Liege, East and West Vlaanderen, Antwerpen (all Belgium), Belgrade, Portugal, Prague, Galiza, Italy, Brazil, UK, part of the Germany site, and the global Indymedia Radio site.

3 comments:

Indymedia spokesman on www.boingboing.net says: said...

A few minutes ago our host (Rackspace) in London received a federal order to turn over the hardware that hosts several Indymedia websites to the FBI.
Rackspace complied and handed the server over to the FBI, but they must have felt bad because they are building us a new server that will be online as soon as possible, oh and they apologized for the abruptness because they think that they are "required to comply with all federal orders of this nature". The servers hosted numerous local IMCs including Belgium and African imcs, Palestine, UK, Germany, and Brasil, Italy, Uruguay, Poland, Belgrade, Portugal, and more. We are unaware as to the reasons for this at this time. We suspect it has to do with an FBI request that we take down a post on the Nantes IMC that had a photo of some undercover Swiss police. They claimed there was threats and personal information, but there was nothing of the sort. The undercover police that were photographed on the page were photographing protesters. Rackspace is a US company, but have colocation in the UK where these servers are (err, were) located. So this is about Swiss police, on a French site, on a server in England, taken away by American federal police... can I be the first to say WTF?! Also on the IMC servers stolen by the FBI were a lot of icecast radio stations, the Indymedia PGP public keyring and BLAG (an Anti-corporate GNU/Linux distribution with a suite of media tools designed to be used to overthrow corporate control of information and technology through community action and free software... put out by the Brixton Linux Action Group). Rackspace has been asked by the EFF for a copy of the order, but Rackspace claims they dont know if they can give it up.

I have been in contact with [Rackspace's] regional director responsible for the federal order. He has stated that [he] can not provide any information regarding the order. I am going to follow up with our law enforcement liason to verify this.

Ubik said...

Should be nice if all the people that believe in freedom of speech put an indymedia banner on their web site!
You can find it at this link:
http://www.italy.indymedia.org/news/2004/10/660009.php

Ubik said...

more news:
Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure
Today, October 8, 2004, Indymedia has learned that the request to seize Indymedia servers hosted by a US company in the UK originated from government agencies in Italy and Switzerland. More than 20 Indymedia sites, several internet radio streams and other projects were hosted on the servers. They were taken offline on October 7th after an order was issued to Rackspace, Inc., one of Indymedia's web hosting providers.

The reasons for the court order or who actually holds the servers now are still unknown to Indymedia.

According to Italian news agency reports and an Agence France-Presse (AFP) interview with FBI spokesman Joe Parris, the FBI acted on Italian and Swiss requests. "It is not an FBI operation," Parris told AFP. "Through a legal assistance treaty, the subpoena was on behalf of a third country." (1)

Earlier today Rackspace published a statement that they turned over the servers in response to an order under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). The MLAT establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations regarding international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter. (2)

An Indymedia system administrator stated: "We do not know if Rackspace is under a gag order, or what legal restrictions were imposed requiring them to act this way, or whether their legal department had enough time to study the request."

Aidan White, the General Secretary for the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had this to say. "We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism. The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting." (3)

Indymedia condemns the fact that even 24 hours after two entire servers were taken down, Indymedia is still not getting any information of the reasons for the order.

By taking down 2 servers more than 20 Indymedia sites were affected in different countries globally as well as several unrelated projects. Indymedia considers this extremely invasive operation a a serious threat to the Freedom of Speech worldwide.

Indymedia insists that the servers are returned because each day they are inoperable and Indymedia's irreplaceable data is unaccessible means greater material damages to the Indymedia operation worldwide.