I spotted this story last Thursday on Boing Boing, and meant at the time to blog it here as my small contribution to the hue and cry, but didn’t. What finally made me pull out the old finger was spotting the BBC’s coverage of the story which appeared today.
In case you’re not au fait with the story, the basics. Indymedia, an alternative media collective, had a large number of their sites hosted in the UK by a US owned company called Rackspace. Last thursday, Rackspace responded to a court order issued by the FBI and handed over hardware containing the Indymedia sites – obviously removing them from the internet in the process. The exact reasons for this are still unclear but appear to involve the Swiss and Italian authorities and may have something to do with pictures of policemen filming protesters that were posted on one of the sites; the exact legal procedure which enabled it is also somewhat fuzzy. Analysis and speculation can be found at the Register and at Statewatch.
I’m glad to see the story being run by major news organisations like the BBC and the Guardian, even if it did take them a few days to pick it up. The fact the independent news and comment sites can be removed from the web without warning in a western country which supposedly supports freedom of speech and the press is alarming to say the least, even if you’re not overly sympathetic with the general ideological slant on most Indymedia sites. The Reg says it better than I can:
…the procedure ought to send shivers down the spine of every publishing organisation on the Internet. It is clearly perfectly possible for their operations to be crippled without warning, without their being told what it is they’ve done, and without explanation.
Let’s hope this one gets a good airing. It needs it, becasue it smells pretty bad right now, even four days on.