FBI Seizes Global Indymedia Servers

According to U-C IMC, on Tuesday, Oct. 5, the FBI seized the hard drives from servers hosted by Rackspace which have the websites for several IMCs, including Uruguay, UK and Western Massachussetts. An e-mail from Rackspace says they received no rationale from the FBI, although “the request originated with the Swiss police.”

Apparently the situation started a few days ago,

when they [the FBI] visited Indymedia’s ISP demanding the removal of identifying information from photographs of undercover police officers that was posted on the Nantes Indymedia website. When asked what the US government was doing requesting the removal of information from a French-run website that contained information about Swiss police actions, the FBI stated that this was a “courtesy” to the Swiss government.

It is very likely that Rackspace may be under a gag order, similar to when Seattle IMC was visited by the FBI back in April 2001.

Clearly, this constitutes a violation of press freedom, and, more particularly, an act of intimidation against independent media, which has no incentive and bares no obligation to kow-tow to any goverment.

One of the practical problems the IMC network faces at this very moment is getting the 23 affected websites back up. One of the great strengths of Indymedia has always been its decentralized non-hierarchical organizational structure. Unfortunately, Indymedia’s Internet resources have not been so decentralized, resulting in a strike against one IMC website also knock off 22 others.

At least IMCs are more decentralized than three – four years ago, when the same server hosted nearly all the sites. Urbana-Champaign was one of the first to host its own server — in face when we first inquired about joining on, we were told, great, as long as we didn’t expect any server support. In the end, having our own decentralized tech infrastructure has been more of an advantage.