On 22 January 2009 an Indymedia server was seized by the Police in Manchester. This was related to postings about the recent Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) trial.
Kent Police had e-mailed imc-uk-contact in the morning requesting that personal information about the Judge from the recent SHAC trial in the UK be removed from the site. However this information had already been quickly removed in line with IMC UK policy. The e-mail also requested information relating to the poster be retained. Indymedia as an open posting news service does not log such information about its sources.
The machine was handed to the Police by the management of UK Grid, a Manchester based colocation facility, without a warrant being shown. It is believed that a warrant for this one server may exist and have been issued by a Chief Inspector. As the server was a mirror of the site, it can be concluded that the validity of the seizure wasn't checked, and the police attacked Indymedia infrastructure in the UK.
Other sites that have been affected as a result of this seizure include London Indymedia, the global Indymedia documentation project server, la Soja Mata – an anti-GM soya campaign focusing on South American development, Transition Sheffield and a Canadian campaign against the 2010 olympics.
IMC Server Seizure Info
On 22 January 2009, Kent Police seized an Indymedia server hosted by Manchester-based colocation facility UK Grid and run by the alternative news platform Indymedia UK. The server was taken in relation to comments on an article regarding the convictions in the recent Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) trial. Seven activists were sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison.
In the morning, Kent Police had emailed Indymedia UK, an independent online news platform, requesting that personal information about Justice Neil Butterfield, the trial judge, be removed from the Indymedia website and that details of the poster be retained.
Dr. Lee Salter, a senior lecturer in journalism at the University of the West of England, told Indymedia "Journalistic material is protected by law, and the police should not gather more information than is relevant for their investigation - by seizing this server they are not only getting information on Indymedia but also on wholly unrelated groups. The police should know that Indymedia does not hold personal information on its participants, so it is a concern is that the police are collecting random information on participants".
The loss of a server represents serious damage to the Indymedia infrastructure in the UK. Several websites including the global Indymedia documentation project, the new website of Indymedia London, la Soja Mata (an anti-GM soya campaign focusing on South American development), Transition Sheffield and a Canadian campaign against the 2010 Olympics were affected. Most of these websites could be restored.
The present case is not the first time that Indymedia servers were seized in the UK. Shortly before the opening of the European Social Forum in 2004 in London, a main Indymedia server was seized from the hosting company Rackspace in an operation which involved an Italian Judge, an American District Court and the FBI.
In 2005, the server of Indymedia Bristol was seized under a search warrant. One Indymedia Bristol volunteer was arrested on suspicion of incitement to criminal damage, but was never charged.
As with previous cases, Indymedia UK stayed online this time. This was possible due to a system of "mirrors", which was set up to protect the technical infrastructure of the alternative media project. Despite the resource intensive interruptions caused by server seizures, the DIY-media activists continue to provide a platform for "news straight from the streets".
Info Sheet 24.01.2009 by: imc-uk press group
So if you are wanting to post controversial information, I would recommend using the Tor program to hide your IP address. It is totally free and fairly easy to install. http://www.torproject.org/ It means that Indymedia, nor anyone else along the way, can link your computer with the visit to their website.
After you have installed it, check it is working by going to a site such as http://www.whatismyip.com/ and seeing what IP address it sees you as coming from. It should be one different to your real IP address.
Ultimately though, anything of dubious legality is going to be removed by Indymedia fairly quickly, since like it or not, they are bound by the laws of the land, and if they don't, they get shut down.
So for absolute freedom of speech, you will need to post information on an anonymous network such as:
Tor - Tor has the ability to run "hidden" webservers as well as to mask your IP address on regular websites
I2P - http://www.i2p2.de/ - you can run anonymous uncensorable websites on this.
Freenet - http://freenetproject.org/ - this can host anonymous, uncensored websites too.
Note that these networks are only visible to other people on them, so your audience will be limited. But they are free to install and use, so the more people that are on them, the better.
An Indymedia server was seized by police in Manchester yesterday (22nd). This comes after somebody had posted the address of the judge in the SHAC trial on Indymedia, leading to Kent Police requesting that the relevant posts be removed, and the IP address of their author be divulged (eg the unique number given to each internet connection, which can be used to trace the user). The posts had already been pulled, in line with IMC UK policy protecting privacy, but because Indymedia don’t log the IP addresses of people publishing on it, they couldn’t help police with their enquiries.
Indymedia is one of the few websites in the land of blogs and open posting that doesn’t log IP addresses, which puts it in contravention of the 2006 EU Directive about the retention of data, obliging sites to log who’s visiting and posting. Nearly all other sites do retain this data – something to think about when you blaze away in the comments section on sites by blogspot, wordpress, facebook and nearly all others.
The police gained a warrant to take this one server, presumably to sift through it to find IP addresses, but Indymedia already knew the police wouldn’t find what they’re looking for as they watched it go out the door. This EU Directive has never been tested in Britain, and it remains to be seen if this will be the first time. But it would be a major own-goal for the police to do so considering the publicity it would generate for Indymedia.
The seizure hasn’t affected the running of Indymedia as the server was one of several mirrors. It’s just an inconvenience and has been taken as a general attempt by police to attack IMC infrastructure. Several sites were temporarily affected including London Indy, and sites for an anti-GM group plus a Canadian campaign against the 2010 Olympics.
Indymedia continues to be a place to publish and read news which protects your online privacy – visit www.indymedia.org.uk
Receipt the police left, UK Grid names blacked out
He is quoted in a lot of mainstream media articles about the SHAC trials.
The reposted SchNews article is wrong about the EU Data Retention Directive
The implementation of Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 (on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks and amending Directive 2002/58/EC) by the UK and many other EU countries is in two phases.
"2006 EU Directive about the retention of data, obliging sites to log who’s visiting and posting"
The first one, dealing with telephone and mobile phone call and location records already came into force in October 2007.
The second phase, dealing with some but not all Internet activity, e.g. email addressees and recipients, "internet telephony" etc. only comes into force this 15th March 2009.
See the Home Office consultation document
Appendix B of which has the text of the proposed Draft Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2008,
However these Regulations have not yet been signed by a Minister, or rubber stamped by Parliament, although they probably will be by March.
The Directive only applies to Telecommunications and Internet Service Providers, not to their customers, not even those hosting their own servers on a small scale. It may not even be applied to small or medium sized ISPs or co-location hosting companies like UK Grid, relying on the logfiles generated by their larger, upstream ISPs.
i thought it was time to make a contribution.... just to clarify: the server was encrypted - is that not obvious by the fact we lost the passphrase to a partition just a few weeks before the server was seized? Consequently, the police now have a £2,500 lump of metal full of random ones and zeros. there is little or no chance that they will be able to figure out anything relevant to their investigation; additionally, even if they were to gain access to any of the data on that was on the server, they would be unable to find anything to help them. this is because, as stated before, indymedia does not log personal data, and even if it did, this machine was a mirror of the publish server. should the police really desire to know anything more that is already in the public domain, they know perfectly well how to contact the imc-uk collective and they will be able to be pointed in the right direction. should they desire to know anything that is not in the public domain, indymedia will most likely be unable to provide this as work is done in as open and transparent a manner as possible.
one final thing to add: @non was spot on with the post about tor.
But is this actually relevant? Not at all, they only needed to point at the SHAC website to prove that activists had anonymously recieved ALF communiques and released them. Forensic evidence is not in reality part of the picture when they openly and publicily released such statements, unless of course links are broken and the cops didn't get a screenshot.
Either way though, the "evidence" was based on receiving anonymous communiques, not sending them. Crime is essentially now based on one's curiosity over an encryped email, if you open it and read it, you then share an "association" with an unknown criminal (even if you completely disagree with them and don't bother to release the communique to others!)
All in all, the activists were guilty of an "association" with criminals, i.e. recieving anonymous communiques from unknown persons, or reposting them. They are not guilty, as anyone might believe, of an "association" with crime, which is an extreme difference to an "association" with those who committed crime. For example, newspapers can do a report from an anonymous criminal, and that is fine, but if they write an article about their 'personal' association with that crime, it is not. The irony being the former tactic is now also illegal.
For example, Smash EDO web-activists could easily be jailed under the same law, because the website reports regarding illegal direct action (even just reposting from indymedia), as a specific example; the quarter of a million pound damage earlier this year. The campaign would therefore have an "association" with the criminals, especially by financially supporting them, or pomoting such prisoner support for them. "Conspiring with unknown persons" basically means if you do anything (even vocally support an action/individual), you are conspiring with them to commit crime. If that crime is political, you are a terrorist. Isn't it now all so easy, even obvious?
Bottom line: Seven activists got fifty years for reporting on what the mainstream media aren't allowed to talk about freely - illegal direct action. Talking about PGP, or relating it to the SHAC trial, is quite obviously a "red herring".
What you might be thinking now is; but they wouldn't send away the EDO 9 for 50+ years, because they can would they? Of course not, yet. A look at history always reveals the answers - always. The reason SHAC received such harsh sentences is because the militant animal liberation movement has been receiving them for decades, and no offence to anyone, but the militant anti-militarist movement hasn't experienced the reality of repression through the courts as of yet, let alone built up an illegal direct action movement (actions: yes, movement: no). It took illegal liberation after liberation before the courts successfully demonised those rescuing non-humans in the 80s, sending them to prison for years by the 90s, in the same way they will begin to demonise individuals taking illegal actions to rescue humans from wars, climate change etc. If you think this is a warped vegan-imagination, then wonder where the prisoner lists are to support all these anti-militarist direct action warriors; that have long term sentences for the actions legal or otherwise. They don't exist, yet.
All in all, illegally saving lives will only be praised for so long within each issue, then it will be swiftly repressed. Smash EDO will be at the frontlines of the repression of the anti-militarist movement, clearly, as are SHAC to the animal liberation movement. But this is barely the beginning for smash edo, as I'm sure those within the campaign are well aware of, the vegans especially I hope ;) Governments don't roll over and die, and more importantly, they don't let their businesses suffer in the same way - just look at the support for the banking system and you'll realise how its going to take a while to shut down the Brighton bomb makers! But this far from mean its pointless and the campaign shouldn't be happening, the opposite is true. Just like G8 and the WTO, EDO are just like HLS, a meeting engagement between the people and the state, with everything at stake; the lives of the innocent. It might take 10 years, 20 or 100, but the fact remains - direct action the only way forward, and it works.