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More on the Indymedia shutdown

Law: t r u t h o u t quotes this press release from Rackspace:

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.

(my emphasis.) I wonder which of those 3 Indymedia is supposed to have been infringing? It’s pretty clear how Rackspace feel about this situation, I think.

It seems MLATs have been used before to shut down Indymedia sites in the US; this cryptome mirror of Montreal IMC pages documents one such case. Here’s a summary from a quoted email there:

Heres a quite interesting story on the power of mlats and what we will have to look forward to with the COE treaty :

A cop car was broken into in Quebec and a security doc relating to measures for the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit protests was stolen and posted in the net in Seattle. At the behest of the RCMP, a magistrate judge issued an order to grab the records from a Seattle web site called the ‘independent media center’ using the US/CAN mlat. They were then visited by the FBI/Secret Service. They then had a gag order on this for several days before it was released today.

Great precedent. I wonder if when my car gets broken into again, I can use the cybercrime treaty to find my stereo again…

And snippets from the IMC press release of the time:

On the evening of Saturday, April 21, a day which saw tens of thousands demonstrate against the FTAA in the streets of Quebec City, the Independent Media Center in Seattle was served with a sealed court order by two FBI agents and an agent of the US Secret Service. The terms of the sealed order prevented IMC volunteers from publicizing its contents; volunteers immediately began discussions with legal counsel to amend the order. This morning, April 27, Magistrate Judge Monica Benton issued an amended order, freeing us to discuss the situation without the threat of being held in contempt.

The original order, also issued by Judge Benton, directed the IMC to supply the FBI with ‘all user connection logs’ for April 20 and 21st from a web server occupying an IP address which the Secret Service believed belonged to the IMC. The order stated that this was part of an ‘ongoing criminal investigation’ into acts that could constitute violations of Canadian law, specifically theft and mischief. IMC legal counsel David Sobel, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, comments: ‘As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, the First Amendment protects the right to communicate anonymously with the press and for political purposes. An order compelling the disclosure of information identifying an indiscriminately large number of users of a website devoted to political discourse raises very serious constitutional issues. To provide the same protection to the press and anonymous sources in the Internet world as with more traditional media, the Government must be severely limited in its ability to demand their Internet identity–their ‘Internet Protocol addresses.’ A federal statute already requires that such efforts against the press be approved by the Attorney General, and only where essential and after alternatives have been exhausted. There is no suggestion that these standards were met here.

The sealed court order also directed the IMC not to disclose ‘the existence of this Application or Order, or the existence of this investigation, unless or until ordered by this court.’ Such a prior restraint on a media organization goes to the heart of the First Amendment. Ironically, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer learned about the existence of the order from ‘federal sources,’ suggesting that the purpose of the gag order was simply to allow the government to spin the issue its way.

The order did not specify what acts were being investigated, and the Secret Service agent acknowledged that the IMC itself was not suspected of criminal activity. No violation of US law was alleged.

Of course, cryptome is still chugging away as it always has been; simple HTML and no server-side dynamic scripting, means easy offshore mirroring ;)