“On Wednesday, April 18, at approximately 16:00 Eastern Time, U.S. Federal authorities removed a server from a colocation facility shared by Riseup Networks and May First/People Link in New York City. The seized server was operated by the European Counter Network (“ECN”), the oldest independent internet service provider in Europe…”

- Server Seizure, April 2012 

This is not the first time servers have been seized by state-corporate agencies, targeting communications services run by community activists. Back in 2004 two servers were removed by from a Rackspace-owned datacentre in the UK at the request of US authorites. The servers were contracted by a co-operative called Ahimsa, which hosted a number of Indymedia websites and various other projects, and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation leapt to their defence.

Here in Aotearoa, during the Operation 8 raids of October 15 2007 Ao Cafe, a prominent discussion site for tino rangatiratanga activists, went offline, never to return. The website of tribal authority Te Kotahi a Tuhoe was also affected. Both websites were run by Rangi Kemara, one of those arrested in the raids and it can be assumed that the server hosting them was seized as “evidence”. There is almost no information about this online and it is one of the many stories to be investigated and told when the legal juggernaut finally stops trying to roll over the Urewera 4.

Another common reason for server seizures in recent years is “anti-piracy” raids motivated by the media corporations against groups like the Pirate Bay, and MegaUpload. As more democratic participation takes place through online channels, and more people keep data essential to their lives and businesses ‘in the cloud’, the implications of state-corporate agents walking away with servers on the most flimsy of excuses become ever more chilling. What will they do if geeks ever manage to implement to holy grail of distributed systems, where every online service is hosted in one huge cloud where any physical server only holds encrypted fragments of many services? Freenet anyone?

Filed April 24th, 2012 under Uncategorized

If you have any friends in the United States, it might pay to let them know their government is preparing to follow the example of China and other dictatorships which filter and censor people’s internet access. There is an online petition against this, organised by Fight for the Future. If any such law that passes in the US there will be pressure on the rest of the world to follow their example, using trade deals like ACTA and the TPPA. InternetNZ are already talking about the implications for us in Aotearoa, and I imagine it will be a hot topic at the NetHui later this year.

Filed April 10th, 2012 under Uncategorized
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