USA: INDYMEDIA & REPRESSION
Gov't Attempts Subpoena For Indymedia Logs - Service Provider Refusesimc 31 Aug 2004 21:00 GMT
Calyx's contacts at Indymedia are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Indymedia is keenly aware of this kind of fishing expedition, as it has happened before, under similar circumstances. In April of 2001, while tens of thousands demonstrated against the proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) in the streets of Quebec City, the federal government attempted to do something very similar. In this case the FBI and Secret Service obtained an order issued by Judge Benton, directing the IMC to supply the FBI with "all user connection logs" for April 20 and 21st from a web server occupying an IP address which the Secret Service believed belonged to the IMC. At that time, IMC counsel Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation had this to say, and it is still apropos today:"This kind of fishing expedition is another in a long line of overbroad and onerous attempts to chill political speech and activism. Back in 1956, Alabama tried to force the NAACP to give up its membership lists -- but the Supreme Court stopped them. This order to IMC . . . is a threat to free speech, free association, and privacy."
[ More information: www.indymedia.org/fbi ]
The IMC was able to win that battle, and as a result of this attempt to violate our clear rights, we felt it prudent to develop a policy of not voluntarily gathering data for the government on people who visit our websites, or who post material to sites. ". . . we do not log IP addresses as a way of protecting the privacy of our visitors. . ."
The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that the First Amendment protects the right to communicate anonymously with the press and for political purposes. We cannot understand why the Secret Service does not respect the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, a federal statute requires such attempts against the press to be approved by the Attorney General - and only after alternatives have been exhausted. It is plain that these standards have not been met in the past and are not being met here.
The particular order in question in the current, New York, case is puzzling: it is Title 18 U.S.C. 594 - "Intimidation or interference of voters." This plainly has not happened, but it is ironic to be bring up this subject during the Republican National Convention if Bush's connections to voter fraud and disenfranchisement in Florida during the last election are remembered. Another example is the Republican party's connections to the largest corporate voting interference ever, The Diebold Corporation, who make flawed electronic voting systems. In October of 2003, Diebold issued a cease and desist notice to Indymedia, because we had links to mirrors of a damning internal Diebold memo that was leaked. As a result of challenges by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Online Policy Group (OPG), and Indymedia, Diebold was forced to back down out of embarrassment.
It is truly disappointing that this United States government, which holds the moral ideals of free speech and free assembly, continues to resort to fear, intimidation, and terrorizing people who celebrate these essential American values.