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(en) Update on the blocking of indymedia - FBI shuts down Indy Media sites world wide!!!

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 9 Oct 2004 09:11:35 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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1) FBI took the hard drives of IMC servers in the UK!!! Pressrelease, 7 October 2004
From IMC URL: http://www.indymedia.org
Thursday morning, 7 October 2004, US authorities issued a federal order
to Rackspace ordering them to hand over Indymedia web servers to the
requesting agency. Rackspace, which provides hosting services for more
that 20 Indymedia sites at its London facility, complied and turned over
the requested servers, effectively removing those sites from the internet.
Since the court order 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. (see update 1 below)

It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US
jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities. (see update 1)

At the same time an additional 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.

Check here for Translations
<http://www.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/111999.shtml> of the press release

2) Update 1, 8 October:

Statement by Rackspace

"In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a
U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with
a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which
establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in
investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money
laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly
issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an
investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is
acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international
law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from
commenting further on this matter.

For additional information on the MLAT, please visit

3) Update 2, 8 October:

Indymedia & the FBI: earlier events

Earlier incidents with the FBI, CIA or other US authorities included:

* Gov't Attempts Subpoena For Indymedia Logs - Service Provider
Refuses <http://www.indymedia.org/en/2004/08/111732.shtml>:
Shortly before the RNC in NYC, August 2004, the FBI attempted to
retrieve IP logs from one of Indymedia's ISP at their offices in
the US and in Amsterdam (Netherlands).
* Free Radio Santa Cruz Raided by Federal Government
* Indymedia fights Diebold's legal attempt to silence discussions
about e-voting <http://www.indymedia.org/en/2003/10/109803.shtml>
* Cyprus IMCista Investigated by United States Intelligence Services
* FBI asked for the Nantes post on swiss police to be removed, but
admitted no laws were violated:

"The FBI agents told me that they were not concerned with the
photos, but with the identifying information. There never was any
such identifying information, and even if there was, it would
likely be protected by the first amendment if it was obtained
legally. (There was a recent case here in Washington that you may
be familiar with on this very issue). But, even assuming it is
illegal to post identifying information (which it is not), there
WAS NO SUCH info. The FBI agents freely admitted to me that
individuals have a right to take hotographs of agents in public
places and post those photos on the internet."

Indymedia still does not have information on the following questions:

1) Why was the hardware sized? The order was issued to Rackspace and
they have not been able to give Indymedia any details, nor were any US
authorities. Indymedia has been trying to find this out and is still
doing so.

At least 4 different stories are spread worldwide at the net as possible
reason, some of them more likely then others. However, we do not have
any confirmation on any of them.

2) Who issued the order where? We understand that the FBI contacted
Rackspace in the US, even though the hardware in question is physically
hosted in the UK. If anybody has confirmed information on this, please
tell us.

3) What hardware was removed? We don't know exacetly whether the
complete servers or the hardware were removed. However, we know that at
least two servers went offline.

Oct 8 Update: Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server

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.

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