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26 April 2000: Add note on second telephone call from Verio.
23 April 2000: Add news report excerpt that MI5 has requested the help of the FBI in tracing and removing the MI5 document.
21 April 2000: Add note about a telephone call from Verio's Customer Advocate Coordinator. Add note about takedown of Mathaba.net by Exodus Communications.
18 April 2000. Verio is the ISP for Cryptome.
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 13:06:12 -0400
From: John Young <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: British Request to Remove Document
Mr. Charles Hunt
Acceptable Use Department
Dear Mr. Hunt,
It was a pleasure to speak with you today about the document on Cryptome:
Your courtesy and supportive remarks are very much appreciated.
This will confirm that I decline to remove the document in response to your forwarded request from a "British Intelligence Agency" made to Verio's legal department.
I do not believe that posting the document is illegal under US law and does not violate Verio's terms of acceptable use. And that an informal request, not a court order, is insufficient reason to remove the document which provides significant public information.
I told you that I knew of three other instances of British intelligence documents being posted on the Internet, and that they had been removed by the ISPs (Yahoo and Geocities) without public explanation of why or what justification was given for their removal. Thus, I would like to obtain information on the British request to Verio in order to publish the information on Cryptome.
In response to your invitation to send a letter for forwarding to Verio's legal department, I would very much appreciate learning, in writing if possible:
1. Who made the request: person, title and agency.
2. When it was made.
3. To whom it was made.
4. Its format, whether verbal or written or both.
5. A description of the request or a copy if it was written.
6. Other means discussed between British Intelligence and Verio to remove the document.
7. How the request relates to Verio's acceptable use policy.
Verio's response and this message will be published on Cryptome to provide information on how British Intelligence conducts its affairs in the US.
251 West 89th Street
New York, NY 10024
21 April 2000
This afternoon Sonya Rector (tel: 214-678-5790), Customer Advocate Coordinator, Office of the President, Verio, telephoned in response to receiving Cryptome's letter to Charles Hunt.
Ms. Rector asked for additional information on the purpose of the letter. Cryptome reviewed its contents, and emphasized that Mr. Hunt had proposed such a letter be sent to him for forwarding to the Verio legal department.
After a congenial and constructive discussion Ms. Rector stated that:
1. She concurs with Mr. Hunt's invitation Cryptome to send the letter.
2. She now understands the free speech issues involved and that Verio fully supports free speech on its sites.
3. She is amazed that a British intelligence agency would directly request Verio to remove a document without providing written legal authority to do so.
4. She would take the matter up with Verio legal on Monday.
5. Cryptome should be assured that a response to the letter will be provided.
21 April 2000
Cryptome learned last evening that Exodus Communications, a major US service provider, ordered last Sunday the removal of a Web site, www.mathaba.net, which mirrored the MI5 document on Cryptome. According to the Mathaba Webmaster this order was issued to NameSecure, a Website forwarding service with which Mathaba had an agreement for services, without prior notice or explanation.
Today in a telephone conversation with Cryptome, Mr. Robert Hyde (tel: 925-285-1802), Business Director of NameSecure, said the site was taken down immediately by the "IT administrator" of NameSecure without questioning Exodus's grounds for the demand. Mr. Hyde said the administrator was told by Exodus that either remove the site immediately or Exodus would shut down NameSecure. Mr. Hyde has said that he has asked Exodus for written documentation for the request in order to protect NameSecure from liability for the action, but no documentation has been provided by Exodus.
Cryptome subsequently learned that the Exodus office in charge of such matters is that of the Policy Enforcement Manager, headed by Ms. Kathleen Patterson (tel: 512-997-3984). Cryptome spoke briefly today with Ms. Patterson about the Mathaba takedown, and asked for grounds for the action and any other information she could provide about how the action was initiated. Ms. Patterson said she would call later, but has not done so after four hours, or 5:30 PM ET.
Though its main site is down, Mathaba.net is mirrored, with the MI5 document at:
America 1: http://www.libreopinion.com/mathaba
America 2: http://asterion.org/mathaba
Europe 1: http://homepage.dtn.ntl.com/atlas/mathaba
Asia 1: http://members.tripodasia.com.my/mathaba
23 April 2000
The Sunday Times (UK), Web leak forces MI5 to switch phones, April 23, 2000
"MI5 has requested the assistance of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation in tracking down and erasing copies of the document from the internet. Officials are particularly concerned about the release of details of a hitherto unknown intelligence gathering procedure called "telecheck", a system for filtering phone traffic to trace, identify and record important calls."
26 April 2000
Matt Hursh (214-678-5790, ext. 7900), Customer Advocate in Verio's Office of the President, telephoned to report that Verio has reviewed the MI5 Libyan document matter and decided that nothing needs to be done about the document being offered on Cryptome.
We discussed Verio's exceptional decision to not intervene in comparison to other ISPs -- Yahoo, Geocities, Exodus Communications in the US, and those in other countries -- which have removed such documents or closed hosting sites under pressure from governmental authorities and private parties.
Mr. Hursh said that Verio had found no reason to take such action, despite the request from British intelligence to remove the document. He said he had no information on how the request was made other than what was reported in the ZDNet (UK) on April 25:
The Florida ISP which hosts the Web site where the material has been published, says it was contacted on Tuesday April 18 by representatives from an undisclosed "British Intelligence Agency" and asked to remove the document from its servers. According to the ISP, these representatives claimed the document is highly sensitive to Britain's national security.
A spokesman for the ISP said: "Our legal department was contacted by the British authorities and it was requested that we ask a customer to remove the page because of its sensitive nature. They didn't go into detail about that sensitive nature."
We asked if Mr. Hursh if Verio would provide a written statement on its decision for publication by Cryptome, and he agreed to ask for that.
Cryptome appreciates Verio's exemplary support for freedom of expression and its refusal to comply with unsubstantiated requests to censor. Those who agree, and those who disagree, might want to tell Verio:
Justin Jaschke, CEO, Verio Inc, e-mail: CEO@verio.net
Verio's management and board: http://home.verio.net/company/manage.cfm