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FBI Seizes Server from Progressive Internet Service Provider

By Jamie McClelland, May First/People Link,

In an attack on our infrastructure, our movement and the democratic
Internet, the FBI seized a server yesterday from one of our cabinets in
a colocation facility.

The server is owned by our sister organization, Riseup, and is managed
by ECN, a progressive technology provider in Italy.

While the seizure of any equipment is pernicious and damaging, the
pointlessness of this seizure suggests an inclination toward
extrajudicial punishment and an attempted crackdown on the very
possibility of anonymous speech online.

The FBI has told us they are investigating bomb threats targeting the
facilities and people at the University of Pittsburgh. They appear to
believe that one of the servers used to transmit these threats was an
anonymous e-mail server operated by ECN. Anonymous remailers have no
logs or traces of who used them, so the FBI will not get any useful
information from the stolen machine.

Seizing this machine serves no useful purpose in tracking down or
stopping the bomb threats, but it has many serious negative
implications. Anonymous e-mail is an important part of the Internet. One
of the benefits of Internet technology is the ability to communicate
world-wide, and this communication is fundamental to the struggles of
the world's people to address many of the world's ills. In a period in
which our society has seen massive losses of privacy in which just about
everything we do on-line can be tracked, logged, studied and used for
all kinds of purposes, anonymous Internet-based communication tools
provide shade from the intrusive searchlights of ubiquitous

Insiders who reveal government and military malfeasance, corporate
whistleblowers, critics within institutions, organizers who fear police
repression, and others involved in liberatory struggle can and do use
anonymous e-mail. Anonymous e-mail is one of the critical tools of the
democracy movement unfolding worldwide, including the Middle East.
Without anonymous communications, such movements would have had even
greater difficulty organizing and would face greater risks and
repression. Without anonymous communications, our already-constrained
knowledge of what government and corporations actually do in our name
and against our interests would be even more limited. Without anonymous
communications, the Internet becomes little more than a caricature of
its potential as a tool for building a just global society.

When authorities forcibly remove a computer from an anonymous
communications network, they weaken that network and set a precedent for
attack on anonymity in general. If we lose anonymous e-mail, we
effectively lose the Internet as a tool for organizing and change.

The use of anonymous communications for bomb threats is horrible. We at
MF/PL have never condoned threats of violence or the use of Internet
technology to harm people. Such use runs counter to our vision of the
reason the Internet exists and its proper use. We are deeply saddened by
the pain caused so many people by these sociopathic activities.

However, we cannot stop malicious anonymous e-mail without also
destroying the ability to use anonymous e-mail for beneficial purposes.
In the other hand, according to the news, the bomb threats continue to
arrive at University of Pittsburgh after this outrageous seizure. There
is no positive outcome to this action by the FBI.

We will defend our members' privacy and their data. We will also
aggressively seek the return of the computer the FBI took and other
legal remedies against those who collaborated in the violation of our
rights. We remain committed to defending the use and protection of
anonymous communication world-wide, and to the advancement of the
Internet as a tool for liberatory change and social justice. 

A press release follows: 

Riseup Networks, Devin Theriot-Orr, 206-708-8740,
May First/People Link, Jamie McClelland, 917-509-5734,
ECN: Isole Nella Rete,

On Wednesday, April 18, at approximately 16:00 ET, U.S. Federal
authorities removed a server from a colocation facility shared by Riseup
Networks and 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."

Disrupted in this seizure were academics, artists, historians, feminist
groups, gay rights groups, community centers, documentation and software
archives and free speech groups. The server included the mailing list
"cyber rights" (the oldest discussion list in Italy to discuss this
topic), a Mexican migrant solidarity group, and other groups working to
support indigenous groups and workers in Latin America, the Caribbean
and Africa. In total, over 300 email accounts, between 50-80 email
lists, and several other websites have been taken off the Internet by
this action. None are alleged to be involved in the anonymous bomb

"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."

"We sympathize with the University of Pittsburgh community who have had
to deal with this frightening disruption for weeks. We oppose such
threatening actions. However, taking this server won't stop these bomb
threats. The only effect it has is to also disrupt e-mail and websites
for thousands of unrelated people," continues Mr. Theriot-Orr.
"Furthermore, the network of anonymous remailers that exists is not
harmed by taking this machine. So we cannot help but wonder why such
drastic action was taken when authorities knew that the server contained
no useful information that would help in their investigation."

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
extrajudicial 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.

MayFirst/People Link ( is a politically-progressive
member-run and controlled organization that redefines the concept of
"Internet Service Provider" in a collective and collaborative way. May
First/People Link's members are organizers and activists who elect a
Leadership Committee to direct the organization. Like a coop, members
pay dues, buy equipment and then share that equipment for websites,
email, email lists, and other Internet purposes.

Riseup Networks ( provides online communication tools for
people and groups working on liberatory social change. Riseup creates
democratic alternatives and practices self-determination by controlling
our own secure means of communications.

ECN (European Counter Network - is the oldest independent
service provider in Europe providing free email accounts, mailing lists,
and websites to organizations, activists, and movements that are
involved in human rights, freedom of speech and information in Italy and
Europe. ECN is anti-fascist and works towards a just and equal society.
Years ago, before sites like Youtube and Vimeo existed, ECN created a
platform called NGV where people could upload and share independent
video of human rights violations. Nowadays ECN works primarily with
anti-fascist and anti-Nazi movements in all of Europe, providing space
and resources to political and social centers.

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The case of Sibel Edmonds and the many innocent Muslims set up by the Fascist FBI through corrupt, provocateurs, is cause for worry.  If they can routinely lie and set up social movements, victimize people through their Fascism, one must suspect the bomb threat itself, as a REICHSTAG, fascist opportunity to impose Fascist despotism, on social movements through criminal surveilance, and false, planted bomb threats, FBI provocateurs themselves.  Has anyone checked to see if there was any real bomb threat and if not, a reason to see the FBI, Justice department thugs as tyrants.

Sibel Edmonds was a translator who was fired because she was privy to Fascist criminals, real traitors, neocons, Fascists, Zionists, who were trading in nuclear military weapons, that pointed to RIGHT WING, FASCIST, Jewish-Amerikans who were profiting from illegal nuclear information and weapons to other global clients.   Of course Amerikan Fascists, including the FBI  PROTECTED these criminals, Zionists, as Obama protects War criminals, Bush and Israeli officials, while going  after Whistleblowers who expose these Fascists and their crimes.  Often they allow real traitors, corrupt class thugs, to run rampant within their POLICE , FASCIST AGENCIES, while going after Sibel Edmond for telling the truth, or Muslims for their faith, not terrorism.  IT IS THEIR STATE TERRORIST, POLICE FASCISM that usually is a threat. 

The FBI routinely lies about its own corruption, criminality, while attacking social movements , as CO INTEL PRO showed, against people who want social justice, while they ENFORCE THEIR FASCISM, CRIMINALITY on others.    They lied about documents which they said did not exist, that could have exonerated Sibel Edmonds, and gone after the FASCISTS THAT RUN THESE INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS.   The Justice Dept. inadvertantly admitted that the FBI LIED, and now claims these documents are top secret to hide their FASCIST DESOTISM, CORRUPTION, CRIMINALITY.  The CIA, FBI, other POLICE FASCIST OPERATIONS cannot be trusted with regard to their lies, agent provocateurs that also lie to maintain class power, Empire power, POLICE POWER over social forces.  The law itself has been corrupted, co opted by these Fascists, and Judges have commented on the real criminals in many of these cases, the FBI itself.

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