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Bristol indymedia site under state attack again as ISP served court order by UK police

category international | indymedia ireland | other press author Tuesday September 02, 2014 02:11author by fred Report this post to the editors

The Server of the Bristol indymedia IMC has been accessed by court order and all open publishing has been suspended. This coincides with the upcoming NATO meeting in Cardiff and is likely part of a government fishing expedition. The scope of the information accessed by police was far wider than that required to investigate the anonymous posts used as the excuse for the court order served on Bristol IMC's ISP
Image source https://www.allriot.com
Image source https://www.allriot.com

the PACE special procedure production order obtained by Avon and Somerset Police and served on Bytemark on 15th August 2014 "demands access to the details of administrators and bill-payers, login credentials, information on those who posted articles and the IP addresses of everyone who visited the site over an unspecified period". The court order served on Bytemark hasn't been published.

Sadly, It looks like this will be the end of open publishing for Bristol.
A statement from the collective was issued containing the following statement:

Bristol Indymedia disabled open publishing on the server and said "it is unlikely that open publishing of news items will ever be re-enabled as it would require complete re-installation of the server".


Whatever the future holds for Bristol indymedia, I would personally like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project for their efforts to date in trying to keep the idea of open publishing alive in Bristol. Good luck to all and thanks from the volunteers at indymedia,ie IMC

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, I will repost this very informative comment
which was posted to Indymedia UK site by "Chris" (thanks Chris!!)

Disinformation, misinformation and the Security State

01.09.2014 21:56

Unfortunately a, now hidden, fabricated, article containing intentional lies, claiming that "owing to an administration error by one of the techies all IP address details for the past 16 months were still stored on the server", was published on UK Indymedia and picked up by various sources, including The Times, before it was removed. This is a classic example of disinformation, "intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately" and it used the classic tactic "to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies". The propagation of this disinformation, as misinformation, "information that is unintentionally false", has occurred on activist discussion boards, Twitter and no doubt elsewhere. The nature of open publishing (pioneered by Indymedia — anyone can post an article) is vulnerable to abuse — in the past the Police have posted disinformation including comments inviting activists undertake illegal activity.

It is worth noting that the Police were not just after IP addresses of authors of specific articles but, as The Times reported, "details of administrators and bill-payers, login credentials, information on those who posted articles and the IP addresses of everyone who visited the site". It appears that it might be a general Police fishing operation as they were seeking far more data than they would need if they were genuinely after the details of the poster(s) of specific articles.

There is no reason to disbelieve Bristol Indymedia's relaunch article and publishing page that stated that they installed Apache mod_remove IP, this means that WordPress would never have access to the client's IP address and there would be no IP information in the Apache log files. However the site didn't use encrypted connections for reading or publishing (HTTPS), probably didn't have an encrypted filesystem.

Thanks to Edward Snowden's revelations it is now general knowledge that GCHQ tap and log vast quantities of Internet backbone traffic, so they will, no doubt, have extensive records of activity on the Bristol Indymedia site and this data, in all likelihood, have been shared with the Police. However GCHQ's illegally gathered data would not be admissible as evidence in a court case and GCHQ wouldn't want their evidence used in court as this would force them to admit what they are doing. In the United States there is a long history of the Police basing cases on illegally gathered intelligence data and then "building a parallel - or separate - evidentiary basis for a criminal investigation in order to conceal how the investigation began", this is known as parallel construction.

Chris


Indymedia.co.uk Article here:
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2014/09/517868.html

Here is what was reported in the Bristol press about this.:
http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Anarchist-website-Bristol-....html

As you can see, the "disinformation" referred to by Chris in his comment above is repeated exactly as he said in this MSM newspaper article.
It was also repeated in the times article here: (paywall)
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4189888.ece
So if you ever needed conclusive proof that you don't get the truth in the mainstream rags, then there it is

This article is also worth checking out on the subject:
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2014/08/517810.html?c=on#c301081

You can read the times article in the comments as somebody has kindly pasted it there. ;-)

Here's some background about Bristol IMC's history with US / UK "law enforcement"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Media_Center

As you can see, they certainly made some powerful enemies!


author by anonpublication date Tue Sep 02, 2014 03:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

TIMES ARTICLE
has been reposted to Urban75 and following is a copy from there, not it also contains the disinformation about the server having 16 months worth of IP adddresses:

Activist website Indymedia shuts down after police raid

Jules Mattsson and Alannah Francis
Last updated at 5:48PM, August 28 2014​


Police accessed servers belonging to the Bristol branch of activist news website Indymedia in a move that later ‘forced organisers to close it down’. The raid is believed to be the latest effort in the long pursuit of the “Bristol unabomber”.

Officers have been trying to locate those responsible for a series of attacks in the city — including a fire in a new police firearms training centre that took a fortnight to extinguish — for more than a year.

A copy of the production order, marked restricted but seen by The Times, authorises officers to seize “special procedure” journalistic material. It demands access to the details of administrators and bill-payers, login credentials, information on those who posted articles and the IP addresses of everyone who visited the site over an unspecified period.

Bristol Indymedia initially said: “Bristol Indymedia only knows the information that a user chooses to provide with a post. We do not keep any IP data on users.”

However, a statement on the national site claiming to be on behalf of the Bristol group reads: “Regretfully owing to an administration error by one of the techies all IP address details for the past 16 months were still stored on the server and these have been recorded by the police.”

The post adds that the Bristol site is “now officially closed for good” following the raid. Indymedia said that they are now consulting lawyers.

Indymedia is a global network of contributors and open publishing sites, effectively allowing anybody to post news reports, pictures and statements on activist issues. The Bristol site was previously used to anonymously post claims of responsibility for the series of arsons and other attacks, signed by the “Informal Anarchist Federation/Earth Liberation Front”.

Those involved in the group also called themselves the “Rogue Fire Brigade” in a number of claims of responsibility posted to Indymedia and other activist websites.

Although it is unlikely that the arsonists would have posted without masking their user details, the data now in the hands of police will send chills through activist circles.

Previous actions claimed by the insurrectionist group include burning a communications mast, disrupting broadcasts and emergency communications, sabotaging train lines, burning politicians’ cars and razing other vehicles ranging from the border agency to broadband providers.

The UK cell is one of many insurrectionist terror groups under the same umbrella worldwide. Most UK attacks have taken place in and around Bristol, with some in Nottingham.

In 2012, the same year as the first visible UK actions by them, an Italian cell took credit for the shooting of a nuclear executive - kneecapping him on his doorstep in Genoa. Other cells have claimed responsibility for attacks as far as Argentina and the United States.

The raid on Indymedia Bristol’s server providers Bytemark Hosting took place on Friday August 15 but details of the seizure have just begun to emerge.

Because of the citizen journalism element of Indymedia, as well as the open posting of statements, their files have sometimes been treated as journalistic in nature with the associated legal protections.

Matthew Bloch, managing director of web hosts Bytemark, said: “The police turned up unannounced at the office door with the court order, demanding several things from the Indymedia servers.

“Bytemark don’t have any choice about compliance with court orders, but we have never been keen on them.”

A source close to Bristol Indymedia said the first they knew of the seizure was when their web hosts contacted them while the warrant was being executed. They said that they had not seen a copy of the order “or know of the contents of it”, adding that they were unaware of any of the supporting evidence and were not informed of the application.

The legal position is that while normal search warrants can be granted ex parte, without the chance to contest them, this type of special material production order must have both parties informed and present.

In a recent Supreme Court case involving Sky News this principle was reiterated, with a previous decision to allow supporting evidence to be given in secret overturned as unlawful. It is not known what process was followed here.

Mr Bloch also said the web host did not “hand over hard discs or offer up physical access” to the police, saying that they “follow the letter of each order, painstakingly extracting and filtering the information ordered, accessing the bare minimum, even if that takes much more time.”

This isn’t the first time Indymedia have found themselves the subject of raids. In 2005 the British Transport Police seized a server and other IT equipment from the same Bristol group. This was believed to be over a posting to the site that referenced direct action against a freight train, which suffered Ł100,000 in damage.

In 2009 police in Manchester seized a server after personal information about the judge on an animal cruelty trial was posted to another Indymedia site and in 2004 the FBI seized hardware from their London branch for reasons unknown. Indymedia described police actions as an “attack on their infrastructure in the UK.”

Avon and Somerset Police said: “We have obtained a production order in order to access the server of a website as part of an ongoing inquiry.

“The action was taken to investigate claims made on a website about possible crimes committed in the Avon And Somerset force area. No arrests have been made in connection with this incident.” When asked whether proper procedure had been followed, the force declined to comment due to the “ongoing investigation”.

This latest move by police in the protracted case will prove controversial. After the 2005 Bristol raid the National Union of Journalists and pressure group Liberty condemned the force’s decision, arguing that journalistic material exemptions should have been engaged. Although on this occasion a special procedure material order was obtained, its legality could be challenged with claims of no prior notice of the application.

In a statement posted to the Bristol Indymedia site after learning of the raid, organisers said “we consider this server to be compromised” and that it was “unlikely that open publishing of news items will ever be re-enabled”.

In the further post to the main website they say that are now “closing down” and said “the power of the State when threatened can be immense and we have seen that this week.”​

author by anonpublication date Tue Sep 23, 2014 22:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting lecture by former MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon looks at how the security services use and manipulate the press. The interview is a few years old but still valid.

See http://www.tcij.org/node/516

 
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