Fri Oct 08 2004 at 17:02:08
The strangest things happen during elections. Close American elections anyway, I've never heard a chad story from anywhere else, for example. Anyway, yesterday I tried to get to a story on a Canadian Indymedia.com site and here's all I got: (as of today, same same)
The Vancouver IMC is taking a break. We are taking some time to upgrade our
systems, reinvigorate our collective, and do some fundraising.
Thank you for your continuing support.
Vancouver IMC Collective"
Very puzzling, since taking down a website isn't usually your first step when fundraising, reinvigorating, etc. But a newstory today puts it in better perspective, perhaps:
As found, Oct 8, 2004 at http://www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml
"The FBI issued an order to Rackspace in the US (Indymedia's provider with offices in the US and London) to remove physically one of our servers. The order was so short term that Rackspace had to give away our hard drives in the UK.
The servers hosted numerous local IMCs. If you find a site is down: that might be the reason
The reason why the hard drives were taken are unknown"
There's more on the raids in the U.S. and Britain on the same web page.
It's worth noting that free speech in Canada is now often more of a privilege (that is, something that can be taken away) than a right - the courts frequently issued strict gag orders before 9/11, and the laws passed afterward, to match the U.S. Patriot Act can prevent those subject to gag orders from explaining, or even revealing the existence of the gag orders themselves, for fear of contravening these very broad, and extremely severe laws.
Maybe Vancouver Indymedia is wholly incompetent, riven with internal dissent and the FBI is the least of their problems. Then again... What bothers me is that given the current draconian restrictions on free speech in North America, you and I simply have no way of knowing.
Please note that this message too, is subject to arbitrary change or removal at any time if requested by those empowered by these laws, without explanation or comment, if so ordered.
Why Indymedia never prepared for the laws it complains about to be used against it beggars my imagination, even on its doubtless shoe-string budget.
"Our National defense depends on our deep faith in liberty!" - George Bush Jr., 2004 Presidential Debates
Have a good day... but be careful who you tell about it.
October 14, 2004
Wired magazine has an update today suggested that the spark for the raid was a French Indymedia Report:
"The posting in question appeared on IndyMedia's Swiss site about Sept. 7, and included several photographs of two men that accompanying paragraphs in French claimed were undercover Swiss police photographing G8 protesters."
According to this account the French may have been notified of the complaint but left the photos in place as they believed no French law was being broken. The FBI may then have used the Swiss complaint as a reason to remove all the sites, in many countries, through a seizure of a hard drive in Britian, according to the provisions of the "Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering."
This raises the spectre that individuals can now be pursued if they break the laws, not of their own country, but of whatever country member of the MLAT has the most restrictive laws - as a matter of governments trading favours with each other. Charming.
Doesn't this replace the rule of law, meaning the supremacy of an organized and recognized public body of law with the rule of any law whatsoever that exists in at least one place on earth, and can be applied at the discretion of your local authorities, or those of any other country on earth?
Some degree of cooperation is necessary, no doubt, but Draco himself could be proud of the results in this case.