Thursday morning, US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace ordering them to hand over information hosted on Indymedia web servers to the FBI. Rackspace, which provides hosting services for more that 20 Indymedia sites at its London facility, complied by turning over two Indymedia servers to federal authorities, effectively removing those sites from the internet.
Indymedia, a global network of independent non-corporate media organizations, had been asked last month by the FBI to remove a story about Swiss undercover police from one of the websites hosted at Rackspace. It is not known, however, whether Thursday’s order is related to that incident since the order was issued to Rackspace and not to Indymedia. According to Rackspace, they “cannot provide Indymedia with any information regarding the order.” ISPs have received gag orders in similar situations which prevent them from informing concerned parties about what is happening.
It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities.
The last few months have seen numerous attacks on independent media by the US Federal Government. In August, the Secret Service used a subpoena in an attempt to disrupt the New York City Independent Media Center before the Republican National Convention by trying to obtain their IP logs from ISPs in the US and the Netherlands. Also, in the past month, the FCC shut down community radio stations throughout the US. Despite these setbacks, Indymedia and other independent media organizations have enjoyed recent victories against Diebold and the Patriot Act.
The list of local media collectives affected by the FBI seizure includes Ambazonia, Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Western Massachusetts, Nice, Nantes, Lilles, Marseille, Euskal Herria (Basque Country), Liege, East and West Vlaanderen, Antwerpen (all Belgium), Belgrade, Portugal, Prague, Galiza, Italy, Brazil, UK, and Germany. Additionally, several streaming radio stations, a Linux distribution site, and other services hosted on those servers were also affected.