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

7 October 2004

Thursday morning, US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace ordering them to hand over Indymedia web servers to the FBI. 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 order 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 informing concerned parties about what is happening.

It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities.

At the same time an additional server was taken down at Rackspace which provided streaming radio to several radio stations including one covering the European Social Forum in London, BLAG (a linux distro), and a handful of miscellanous services.

The last few months have seen numerous attacks on independent media by the US Federal Government. In August the Secret Service used a subpoena in an attempt to disrupt the NYC IMC before the RNC by trying to get IP logs from an ISP in the US and the Netherlands. Last month the FCC shut down community radio stations around the US. Two weeks ago the FBI requested that Indymedia takes down a post on the Nantes IMC that had a photo of some undercover Swiss police and IMC volunteers in Seattle were visited by the FBI on the same issue. On the other hand, Indymedia and other independent media organisations were successful with their victories for example against Diebold and the Patriot Act. Today however, the US authorities shut down IMCs around the world.

The list of affected local media collectives includes Ambazonia, Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Western Massachusetts, Nice, Nantes, Lilles, Marseille, Euskal Herria (Basque Country), Liege, East and West Vlaanderen, Antwerpen (all Belgium), Belgrade, Portugal, Prague, Galiza, Italy, Brazil, UK, and Germany.

For more information, please contact press@indymedia.org

It is ironic that that this happens now, just days before Indymedia UK 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

  • A U.S. Government agency served a subpoena upon Rackspace, requesting certain information (several have said FBI / some say it was requesting hardware not information)
  • We do not know what that information was.
  • Rackspace handed over two computers to the agency to comply with the subpoena (though i don't think it's clear exactly to who they gave the hard drives – uk police / fbi reps?)
  • Rackspace refuses to provide a copy of the subpoena on advice of counsel.
  • Rackspace previously provided two dedicated servers to Indymedia, which hosted a number of Indymedia and related sites, including Nantes. The computers were located in the UK, but owned by Rackspace, a U.S. company.
  • Last week FBI asked for the Nantes post that allegedly contained information about undercover swiss police to be removed, but admitted no laws were violated.

By brett at 08/10/2004 – 08:56

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