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FBI Seizes a Server Used by CLG's Webhoster in Bomb Threat Investigation

CLG: FBI Seizes a Server Used by CLG's Webhoster in Bomb Threat Investigation--MayFirst: FBI seizes server providing anonymous remailer and many other services from colocation facility --Server seizure 'plainly extra-judicial punishment and an attack on free speech and anonymity on the Internet' Posted by Lori Price, www.legitgov.org 20 Apr 2012 On Wednesday, April 18, at approximately 4:00 pm Eastern time, U.S. Federal authorities removed a server from a colocation facility shared by Riseup Networks and [CLG webhoster] 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, who, among many other things, provided an anonymous remailer service, Mixmaster, that was the target of an FBI investigation into the bomb threats against the University of Pittsburgh.

"The company running the facility has confirmed that the server was removed in conjunction with a search warrant issued by the FBI," said May First/People Link director Jamie McClelland. "The server seizure is not only an attack against us, but an attack against all users of the Internet who depend on anonymous communication." ...

"The FBI is using a sledgehammer approach, shutting down service to hundreds of users due to the actions of one anonymous person," said Devin Theriot-Orr, a spokesperson for Riseup. "This is particularly misguided because there is unlikely to be any information on the server regarding the source of the threatening emails." ...

The FBI purportedly seized the server because it was hosting an anonymous remailer called Mixmaster. Anonymous remailers are used to send email anonymously, or pseudonymously. Like other anonymizing services such as the Tor network, these remailers are widely used to protect the identity of human rights activists who place themselves and their families in grave danger by reporting information about abuses. Remailers are also important for corporate whistle blowers, democracy activists working under repressive regimes, and others to communicate vital information that would otherwise go un-reported.

The Mixmaster software is specifically designed to make it impossible for anyone to trace the emails. The system does not record logs of connections, details of who sent messages, or how they were routed. This is because the Mixmaster network is specifically designed to resist censorship, and support privacy and anonymity. Unfortunately, some people misuse the network. However, compared to the rate of legitimate use, the abuse rate is very low. There is therefore no legitimate purpose for the FBI to seize this server because they will not be able to obtain any information about the sender. This is plainly extra-judicial punishment and an attack on free speech and anonymity on the Internet and serves as a chilling effect on others providers of anonymous remailers or other anonymous services. In absence of any other leads, the FBI needs to show that they are making progress in this case, and this has meant seizing a server so they can proudly demonstrate they are taking some action. But what this incident shows is they are grasping at straws and are willing to destroy innocent bystanders for the sake of protecting their careers. [Click here for full press relase.]

See also: CLG: FBI Agents Approach CLG's Webhoster in Bomb Threat Investigation --'Even if we could cooperate, we wouldn't.' Posted by Lori Price, www.legitgov.org 12 Apr 2012 Emphasizing: CLG's webhoster, MayFirst, was approached by two FBI agents, not CLG itself. MayFirst responded, "We will not cooperate with any investigation into the identities, activities or perspectives of any of our members or any of the users of our systems."