The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) contacted volunteers from San Francisco Indymedia on Friday. Agent Chuck Esposito, from the Oakland FBI office, telephoned "Espe", a volunteer who has worked with the SF Indymedia collective. Esposito indicated that the FBI is interested in reviewing Indymedia server logs. While an alleged criminal act is the stated reason for the inquiry, activists feel it is not beyond the pale to suspect that this contact is meant to intimidate individuals and organizations involved in legal political activity whose views are not popular with the government in the current climate of war-time repression. While this particular event might not seem like a big deal to some, it is merely the tip of the iceberg, if history is any judge. This is just what we are seeing now; inevitably, much more investigation and behind-the-scenes shenanigans are going on. |
Indymedia does not record IP addresses of website visitors, so the FBI will have to use Constitutionally-questionable spying devices such as Carnivore in their attempt to hunt down this type of information. Fortunately, hacktivists are providing "anonymous web proxies" that allow web surfers to avoid such intrusions into their privacy.
Indymedia volunteers have contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which helped Indymedia when Seattle Indymedia was served with an order by the FBI in April. According to information obtained by an EFF representative, Agent Esposito was instructed to follow up on a lead they had received involving some kind of "anthrax threat" that allegedly appeared on Arizona Indymedia.
Note that the FBI claim about the type of content posted on Indymedia during the April case was later shown to be false. The FBI dropped that case in June, putting the current score at: Media Activists 1, FBI Spies 0.