07/10/04 US Authorities Seize IMC Servers in UK

07-10-2004 21:43 | 25 comment(s)

UPDATE 9th Oct: Statewatch Statement on Server Seizures and MLAT

“Why did the Home Office agree? What grounds did the USA give for the seizure of the servers? Where these grounds of a “political” nature? Has the Home Office requested that the servers be returned? What does this action say about freedom of expression and freedom of the press?”

UPDATE 8th Oct: Latest Indymedia Statement

“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”

UPDATE 8th Oct: Rackspace have issued a statement:

“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.”

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Statement (8th Oct)

“We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism,” said Aidan White IFJ General Secretary. “The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting.”
International Freedom of Expression eXchange: AMARC Alert (8th Oct)

See also 2002 Indymedia Support Letter signed by MPs and others. Further links to mainstream media coverage can be found at the bottom of this feature. Correspondence between an indymedia activist and Rackspace, and lists of sites that are and are not back on line, can be found on this blog.

Original Post

On Thursday morning, 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 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.

It is ironic that that this happens now, just days before Indymedia is due to participate in the European Forum on Communications Rights being held alongside the European Social Forum and several other days of discussions about electronic civil liberties and community media. For more information on these events see www.efcr2004.net

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