10 October 2004. Highly informative account of the seizure:
9 October 2004
Statewatch on UK complicity: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2004/oct/04uk-usa-indymedia.htm
From: John Young <email@example.com
Date: 9 October 2004, 04:24 PM EST
Subject: Re: <nettime> indymedia servers in UK seized by FBI
This matter is far from settled. Rackspace appears to have acted precipitiously in response to a US court order to act on servers located in the UK, ostensibly under a treaty for mutual aid in law enforcement. Initiation was by Switzerland to attempt to protect two of its undercover police monitoring a demo in Italy. The two were photographed and their photos posted on an Indymedia site in France. Switzerland asked for Italian assistance, and the two in turn asked for US and UK assistance. This multi-nation cooperation is covered by the mutual assistance treaty.
The FBI has stated that it has no investigation of the matter, that it only served to convey the Swiss/Italian mutual assistance request to the US company and its UK subsidiary. The US company apparently did not contest the court order, and claims in a statement that it acted as "a good corporate citizen."
This is not unprecedented. Some years ago several US ISPs removed material on sites at the request of foreign governments. They acted unilaterally, without court order, merely upon the request of the governments. Some of these incidents were made public, competing ISPs offered to refuse to abide such requests, and customers abandoned those who cooperated with the authorities.
This method can be used against Rackspace. Indeed, it is likely that Rackspace awaits public outcry, and customers leaving, in order to have grounds to resist the thinly justified action in this case.
Recall that the US DoJ is regularly bluffing and faking its attack on alleged terrorist suspects and political dissidents. Other countries are following the US in this vile practice. They cover for each other with these obnoxious mutual assistance treaties, in which fingers are pointed after the dirty deeds are done.
In this case, US law has been trashed by the treaties, and the FBI laughably says it had no say. That the US must break its law in order to get other countries to break theirs in exchange. Shell gamism, and worse likely to come unless there is loud, strong and lasting protest.
There should be a campaign to boycott Rackspace, then on to other targets yet to be identified. US ISPs should join the protest on their own behalf and that of their customers. First off, there must be a challenge to keep confidential orders from governments to hand over customer information.