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Indymedia Servers Mysteriously Reappear, But Questions Remain

press release posted today (Oct. 13)
San Francisco, CA - Rackspace Managed Hosting, the San Antonio-based company that manages two Indymedia servers seized by the US government last Thursday, said yesterday that the servers have been returned and are now available to go back online. Immediate access to the servers, which host Indymedia's Internet radio station and more than 20 Indymedia websites, will be delayed so that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) can ensure that the servers are secure and take steps to preserve evidence for future legal action.

Now that the servers have been returned, the question still remains: who took them, and under what authority? Citing a gag order, Rackspace would not comment on what had happened both in the original seizure of the servers or their return. All that is known at this point is that the subpoena that resulted in the seizure was issued at the request of a foreign government, most likely with the assistance of the United States Attorney's Office in San Antonio. Although initial reports suggested that the FBI had taken the servers, the FBI has now denied any involvement.

The seizure, which silenced numerous political news websites for several days, is clearly a violation of the First Amendment. "Secret orders silencing US media should be beyond the realm of possibility in a country that believes in freedom of speech," said EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl. "EFF was founded with the Steve Jackson Games case fourteen years ago, and at that time we established that seizing entire servers because of a claim about some pieces of information on them is blatantly illegal and improper. It appears the government forgot this basic rule, and we will need to remind them."

EFF will take legal action to find out what really happened to Indymedia's servers and ensure that Internet media are protected from egregious First Amendment violations like this in the future.

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Attorney, Equal Justice Works / Bruce J. Ennis Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston (at) eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt (at) eff.org
previous press release from EFF 14.Oct.2004 00:20

cut-n-paster

Seizure of Servers Hosting Indymedia Websites Violates the First Amendment

San Francisco, CA - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing a coalition of independent Internet journalists whose websites were shut down on Thursday, October 7, when their servers were seized by the FBI. The two servers, which were located in the United Kingdom and managed by San Antonio-based Rackspace Managed Hosting, hosted Indymedia's Internet radio station and more than 20 Indymedia websites, as well as several email lists.

The seizure was in response to a "Commissioner's Subpoena" issued at the request of a foreign government. Citing a gag order, Rackspace has provided no further details. An FBI spokesperson has confirmed that the subpoena was issued at the request of Italian and Swiss authorities. Earlier this month, the FBI made informal requests to both Rackspace and Indymedia to remove an Indymedia news story that included photos of undercover Swiss investigators posing as anti-globalization activists. At the time, the FBI admitted that the posting did not violate US law.

EFF has contacted the FBI to demand Indymedia's illegally seized servers be returned and is preparing for legal action in the event that negotiations with the FBI fail. EFF is also calling on Rackspace to challenge the government's illegal seizure. "If Rackspace stands behind its claim of providing 'Fanatical Support' to its customers, it will go to bat for Indymedia-one of its biggest customers-and demand that the FBI return the seized Internet servers," said Kurt Opsahl, EFF staff attorney. "Rackspace should also fight for its own rights and challenge the gag order preventing it from sharing its side of the story." A federal court in New York City recently found a similar gag order unconstitutional in Doe v. Ashcroft, the ACLU's challenge to a secret PATRIOT Act subpoena served against an Internet service provider.

"The FBI can't pull the plug on more than 20 news websites - our modern printing presses - based on a secret proceeding at the request of a foreign government. This is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment," said Kevin Bankston, EFF attorney and Equal Justice Works/Bruce J. Ennis Fellow. "As far as the Constitution is concerned, Indymedia has the same rights as any other news publisher. The government can't shut down the New York Times, and it can't shut down Indymedia."

The Indymedia seizure bears a striking resemblance to EFF's very first case, Steve Jackson Games v. US Secret Service. In that case, the Secret Service seized the hardware and software of Steve Jackson Games, an Austin, Texas-based computer game publisher. That seizure, which shut down an Internet bulletin board and email server in addition to disrupting the publisher's business, was found to be an illegal violation of the publisher's rights.

Contact:

Kevin Bankston
Attorney, Equal Justice Works / Bruce J. Ennis Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston(a)eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt(a)eff.org

Acting like idiots about what happened won't help next time either... 14.Oct.2004 07:56

sad

Many of us whose messages you chose not to publish warned you about what this incident is symptomatic of but pretending that no one knows who took the servers or why is not only stupid - it is plain cowardice. The fact that the fascists who took the servers have been doing similar stunts in other countries for decades and NOT getting away with it as easily as they WILL get away with it here is testimony to why they are doing it now - they have scared Americans into cowardly submission so much that impunity and unmmasked fascist techniques will now become the order of the day. And there is nothing that you or your supporters will do about it because you are now in too deep into your comfortable self-delusion/denial AND THEY KNOW IT!! If Americans did not have their heads in the sands of their ass they would have researched other countries where the CIA has placed fascist governments to see how they did it and to see what they can expect in their own land now that the chips are down. HINT: the next step will be an intimidating bomb in one of the major indymedia centers or hosts and the consequent blaming of unlikely perpetrators almost as if to say yeah! we did it and what do you plan to do about it?

People will also begin to disappear and probably are already doing so. This selection will mark probably the last time that Americans will vote for a long time and until they regain some self respect and some courage and wisdom. The main culprits are the fascists but ultimately, if any country ever deserved to suffer under fascism it really is the USA.

Boycott Rackspace 14.Oct.2004 11:56

anonymous



To sad: Therefore... 14.Oct.2004 16:36

hopeful

we should all become the type of persons that both individually and collectively do not deserve fascism. We need to become good people (Yes, damn you! this means love and peace!) because we are not now. In my humble view, this means first, realigning our definition of truth in order to be able to be honest with ourselves, before we even try to present our new mask of honesty to the rest of the country and then the world, which is really the stage upon which we get a last chance for our walk-on part, as we have urinated on our lead role by turning it into the proverbial cage. This type of honesty is the first step in cognitive psychological and psychiatric healing mechanisms. From this honesty, we must move to enumerate all the wrongs we have done and how we intend to fix them: HINT! just William Blum has many books worth of this kind of work that we owe to the world before we can readjust towards the inside of the country so that we can start healing our minds and our hearts.

A good monitor of how well we have done with reparations to the rest of the world so that we can quickly then start the tremendous job needed in our sick heads (remember America! 27% of Americans have mental illness!!!) will be whether the rest of the world consciously says, "OK, America! You are partially forgiven enough to get on with your internal healing because your first reparations show a step in the right direction." THEN COMES THE IMPORTANT SECOND STEP!!

The second step is made up of three substeps which are actually each gigantic if we still have not learned humility. The first substep is not characterized by political or religious or any of those simpleton categories - its nature is spiritual. By the end of the first substep we must have literally millions of these dangerous rabid pseudo Christian fundamentalists down on their knees crying out for forgiveness from the rest of the country, while the selfish-evil gang (Chenney style) is marched off to jail and rehabilitation programs therein... .

Here is one company out of california that is tracing computers on the net. 14.Oct.2004 21:46

Bird dog

I use a firewall and have been able to trace their hits on my computer.

You might want to keep it for future information on this problem.



OrgName: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
OrgID: IANA
Address: 4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
City: Marina del Rey
StateProv: CA
PostalCode: 90292-6695
Country: US

NetRange: 10.0.0.0 - 10.255.255.255
CIDR: 10.0.0.0/8
NetName: RESERVED-10
NetHandle: NET-10-0-0-0-1
Parent:
NetType: IANA Special Use
NameServer: BLACKHOLE-1.IANA.ORG
NameServer: BLACKHOLE-2.IANA.ORG
Comment: This block is reserved for special purposes.
Comment: Please see RFC 1918 for additional information.
Comment:
RegDate:
Updated: 2002-09-12

OrgAbuseHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
OrgAbuseName: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number
OrgAbusePhone: +1-310-301-5820
OrgAbuseEmail:  abuse@iana.org

OrgTechHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
OrgTechName: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number
OrgTechPhone: +1-310-301-5820
OrgTechEmail:  abuse@iana.org

# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2004-10-14 19:10
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.

Petition: support Indymedia in face of international police repression 20.Oct.2004 16:45

@

To sign on to the support Indymedia solidarity statement:
 http://solidarity.indymedia.org.uk/

Background info:

On 7 October, 2004, hard drives from two Indymedia servers were seized from the London office of a US-owned web hosting company, Rackspace, at the request of the US Justice Department, apparently in collaboration with Italian and Swiss authorities.

The seizure of the hard drives in London shut down an Indymedia radio station and around 20 different Indymedia websites including those serving Ambazonia, Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Western Massachusetts, Nice, Nantes, Lilles, Marseille, Euskal Herria (Basque Country), Liege, East and West Vlaanderen, Antwerpen, Belgrade, Portugal, Prague, Galiza, Italy, Brazil, UK, and parts of Germany Indymedia.

Although the hard drives were returned on October 13, the particular legal framework under which the seizures took place is unknown. One week after the seizures there is still an almost total information blackout from the authorities in the UK, US, Switzerland and Italy. Indymedia still has no confirmation of who ordered the seizures, who took the hard drives, why the seizures took place, or whether it will happen again.