wiki:projects/server-seizure/statement

Version 3 (modified by Jamie McClelland, 8 years ago) (diff)

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Proposed statement

In an attack on our servers, our movement and on the use of the Internet for progressive purposes, the FBI yesterday seized a server from our server rack at a colocation facility we use.

We were not informed before the seizure and were not informed by the FBI after it took place. We believe the seizure amounted to nothing more than theft of our machine. The server is owned by our sister organization, Riseup, and is managed by ECN, a progressive provider in Italy. While the seizure by the government of any equipment is pernicious and damaging, the reason the FBI has given for this seizure actually makes it extraordinarily dangerous. The FBI is investigating bomb threats being made to facilities and people at the University of Pittsburgh and believes that one of the servers used to email these threats was an anonymous email server operated by ECN. These servers have no logs or traces of who used them and so the FBI will not get any useful information from them; there is no useful purpose to the seizure. But a lot of harm could be done. Anonymous email is one of the most important parts of the Internet. One of the benefits of Internet technology is the ability to communicate world-wide: communication that is fundamental to the struggles of the world's people and the continued existence of the human race. In a period in which we have made massive compromises in our privacy -- and in which just about everything we do on-line can be tracked, logged, studied and used for all kinds of purposes -- there is one oasis from the glaring sunlight of intrusion: anonymous email and communication.

Government information revealers, whistleblowers, critics within institutions, organizers who fear police repression -- they all use anonymous email. In fact, anonymous email is one of the primary tools of the democracy movement unfolding worldwide (particularly in the Middle East). Without it, such movements would have had much greater difficulty organizing and would face much greater danger and repression. Without it, our already too limited knowledge of what government and corporations actually do in our name and against our interests would be even more limited. Without it, the Internet becomes little more than a caricature of its true potentical and purpose. Anytime an anonymous computer is removed from the anonymous communications network, it weakens that network and sets a precedent for attack on the entire technology. If we lose anonymous email, we effectively lose the Internet as a tool for organizing and change.

Obviously, the use of the technology made by this author of threats is horrible. We at MF/PL have never condoned threats of violence, terroristic activities or the use of Internet technology to frighten people and disrupt their lives. This runs counter to our vision of the reason the Internet exists and its proper use. And we are deeply troubled by the pain caused so many people by these sociopathic activities.

But this type of anonymous email use is very infrequent, almost microscopic, when compared to the legitimate, lawful and progressive use the great majority of users make of anonymous email. There is no positive outcome to this type of action by the FBI. As we have said in the past, we will never give up information about our members. We will also aggressively seek the return of the computer the FBI stole from us and other legal rememedies against those who collaborated in the trouncing of our rights. And, in that context, we will assertively defend the use and protection of the anonymous email system world-wide and resist any actions that might harm it.