Crackdown on Indymedia

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The FBI has issued an order to hosting provider Rackspace in the US, ordering it to turn over two of the servers hosting the Independent Media Centre's websites in the UK, a statement from the group says….

Rackspace complied with the FBI order, without first notifying Indymedia, and turned over Indymedia's server in the UK. This affects over 20 Indymedia sites worldwide, the group said.

Indymedia said it did not know why the order had been issued as it was issued to Rackspace. Rackspace told some of the group's volunteers "they cannot provide Indymedia with any information regarding the order." ISPs have received gag orders in similar situations which prevent them from updating the parties involved on what is happening.

Infoshop and Indymedia are saying Switzerland requested this after a French Indymedia site published pictures of undercover Swiss police. (That would mean the Swiss asked the American police to shut down a British server operating a site in France. And some say multilateralism is dead!)

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  1. Wow, great. Just great. I’m not that fond of Indymedia and their crappy little revolutions per se, but you know:
    First they came for Indymedia…

    Warning: NOW I GET TECHNICAL on how to prevent them from pulling that kind of shit!

    What we’d need would be a system where information gets served directly from a P2P, with links to unique identifiers instead of documents on specific servers (that wouldn’t be as much of a problem as it may seem to be, cf. Usenet Message IDs which work ok normally even without the crypto protection that would be possible today).

    This, and automatic distribution of files to self-building neighbourhoods (e.g., each host is in three and the hosts themselves find out whether documents are present in each of the neighbourhood), should not be a problem and has been done before (as in spanning searches via nodes in multiple groups like GNUtella does).

    Authenticity of documents could be checked using public key cryptography (like PGP) and a web of trust.

    There could be multiple (private, commercial or not doesn’t matter) “trust authorities” that provide certification and key signing, and I have no difficulty imagining a market for “sources of trust”. This rudimentally already exists in CAs, although those often check identities laxly because there is still little awareness with consumers about the dangers of that. And don’t get me started about why browser vendors *still* give initial trust to VeriSign’s certificate…

    These “new CAs” would have quite an incentive for cross-signing each other and revoking signatures if others abuse their “power”, so that users in the end would only have to buy one certification and know about the whole hierarchies of trust at once, just like you can call from all phones to all others.

    Now, all we have to do is convince the commies over at Indimedia that this can be pulled off without a trust post office, and as we all know this has gone off swimmingly so far… 🙁

  2. Short of the trust authority stuff, what you describe is almost precisely the original design of the Freenet project. I have no idea if that project still exists, but its design goal was a peer-to-peer system in which no node could determine what files it was sharing.

  3. Why did the Swiss ask the Americans to do anything, if the server was in England?

  4. RC,
    Because the fastest to get the UK gov’t to do anything is to have Washington DC request it.

  5. FreeNet is alive and well (or, at least, alive). There’s also ANts, a similar anonymizing P2P system, which I think is spiffy only because it routes messages in the same way ants route to find food.

    I’m sure there are other similar P2P systems under development as well, and only time will tell which is “best”.

  6. Hey, we ain’t all commies! 😉 In fact, there’s way more anarchists than anything.

    I even had a Reason subscription for years. Hell, technically I’m still registered as a Libertarian, though I think the Libertarian movement is really lame. Politically, it hasn’t moved in a decade or more… Did ya’ll even hit the big five-oh for ballot status this year? When all those “Libertarians” supported the Iraq invasion I really knew it was beat. LP News, ug…

    You can find lots more info about the server seizure on my blog (I had the account with rackspace):
    http://jebba.blagblagblag.org/

    We (IMC-techs) have been working on mirroring, p2p networks and such, but haven’t deployed all this stuff because the code really isn’t there yet (e.g. freenet).

    Some IMCs had more recent software which had far superior mirroring and were restored quickly. Others are in worse shape and lost a couple months of posts (possibly).

    Crackdowns like this show how desparately we (e.g. the Internet & free folk) need to get these kinds of programs developed.

    Have fun,

    -Jeff

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