FBI Server Seizure
07 September 2004: The FBI seized the hard drives from two Indymedia servers in London, Ahimsa I and II.
18-11-2004 12:57Indymedia will be five years old on 30 November, the anniversary of the Anti-WTO protests in Seattle [1st ever post on IMC]. Plus the FBI has seized a London-based server that was used by 20 IMC's worldwide.
So we'll combine the celebration with the need to raise money for new servers and invite everybody to the Fifth Birthday of Insurrection Party after the Anarchist Bookfair: 8pm - 4am, St George's Church, 49 Tufnell Pk Rd, entry by donation. All proceeds to fund new IMC servers. The rampART is offering limited crash space by prior arrangement for people coming to London for the Anarchist Bookfair...
The line-up is:
- Rhythms of Resistance Samba Band
- The Rub (electronic set)
- Penny Rimbaud (Crass)
- The Unpeople
- The Internationalz
- Special guest: the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Please come, have fun and support Indymedia. If you like the site then help us getting a new server off the ground. If you can't come, consider setting up a monthly direct debit with what you can afford - see here for IMC-UK's account details. Or donate one-off via the Sheffield Indymedia PayPal account:
One month after the harddrives were taken out of the servers Ahimsa I and II in London, indymedia had many responses from civil liberty groups and professional journalist organisations. Legal steps are being taken or considered on both sides of the atlantic. The US State Attorney (ie the lawyer for the US government) has responded to a Motion to Unseal the server seizure court order in the US. A solidarity statement has been signed by more than 10,000 people, parliamentary questions have been asked in the House of Commons, and old hardware has been delivered to various Italian Embassies and to the FBI. Check the Electronic Frontiers Foundation for a factsheet and read on for a round-up of a wide range of responses.
The seizure of the hard drives on Oct 7th in London shut down an Indymedia radio station and around 20 different Indymedia websites from Ambazonia to the UK. Thousands of individuals who have posted hundreds of thousands of articles on these web sites suddenly found their voices silenced by an unknown hand. See the server seizure story for an overview...
Following the FBI raid, a number of Web servers have been offered to the UK site and are already in use. Our immediate aim is, therefore, to build a database server to take the load off the existing one. The current database, or 'publishing server,' for the UK and other Indymedias is often overloaded, especially when uploading larger media files. Scores of people give up in frustration when publishing unsuccessfully time and again.
The best way to help is to set up a regular payment into the Indymedia UK Network account: several people are already contributing £10 a month, but whatever sum you can afford would be much appreciated. Read on for information about how to donate to this appeal.
On Thursday 7th US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace to hand over Indymedia web servers, hosting services for more than 20 Indymedia sites and much more. Rackspace complied removing discs from London.
It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities. The discs have now been returned. But the questions remain...
Last Thursday the FBI seized the hard disks from the web server that runs Sheffield IMC. This is likely to have been given the go ahead from Sheffield Brightside MP and Home Secretary, David Blunkett. Seven days on and neither the FBI, the Government nor the police have offered any explanation to Indymedia as to why their servers were seized. The Sheffield MP Richard Allan is planning to ask a question about this in the House of Commons on Friday, more info on his blog.
The seizure of the server has affected around 20 IMC sites around the world, including Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Western Massachusetts, Nantes, Marseille, Belgrade, Portugal, Prague, Italy, Brazil, UK, and the global Indymedia Radio site.
Sheffield Indymedia's presence on the web was quickly reinstated due to there being backup servers, but all the other IMC sites were not so fortunate. It has taken a huge amount of work to get things in the UK running again, and the knock on effects of the server being seized are likely to be felt for a while yet. We hope that users of the Sheffield site will bear with us through this time.
UPDATE 14th Oct:
Hard drives returned
The two servers recently seized by US Authorities were returned yesterday morning to Rackspace (the hosting service where the servers were first taken from). Indymedia is now weighing additional legal options after this illegal seizure of its servers. Many of the original questions still remain.
Sign the Global Support Declaration
UPDATE 13th Oct: Indymedia UK Call for Solidarity
Indymedia Press Release: 11/12th Oct
Reporters Without Borders Solidarity Statement: "Home Secretary David Blunkett challenged over Indymedia website closures"
Association for Progressive Communications Statement: "APC condemns "arbitrary" seizure of IndyMedia web servers by US and European law enforcers."
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.
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