Feeds

Servers seized by FBI returned - but who wanted what?

MPs push Blunkett for answers

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

The Indymedia hardware seized in London last week were put back in place over the last 24 hours, but their return puts the UK Home Office even more on the spot. The original hard disks, apparently with the original data, have been returned, which suggests strongly that the authorities wanted sight of information that is on them.

Who these authorities are remains as open a question as what they wanted to see, but given the convoluted nature of the seizure process (the FBI apparently acting under a US-UK treaty on behalf of Switzerland and/or Italy to seize hardware in London), the British Home Office must surely have been presented with at least a flimsy pretext for its approval of the operation.

Further mystery is added by the circumstances of the return. Rackspace, the hosting company involved, alerted Indymedia to their return yesterday morning, saying: "I was just told that the court order is being complied with and your servers in London will be online at 5pm GMT." But what court order? And why is being complied with? The Orwellian nature of the powers likely to have been used in the case severely restrict Rackspace's ability to tell its customer, or anybody else, what's going on, and can also be used (on US request) to bind the Home Office to confidentiality. Not that any compulsion is usually necessary here.

Although the data on the drives appears intact, Indymedia is treating them as potentially compromised, and won't boot them or take the servers live until they've been verified. Depending on what was done to them when they were in the hands of, er, whoever, there may be some slight chance that the verification will throw up some clues. And if information was being sought as evidence in a pending court case, then information on how this evidence was obtained and by what process will also have to be produced. If the process turns out not to have been one that would be accepted by a court, then it will be likely that direct evidence-gathering was not the intent. Which would raise even more questions about the validity of the use of an MLAT, and the Home Office's involvement in it.

Richard Allan, Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, has tabled a Parliamentary question to the Home Office asking David Blunkett "what recent discussions he has had with US law enforcement agencies concerning the seizure of material from UK-based internet hosting providers; and if he will make a statement." This is to be dealt with tomorrow. MPs in the National Union of Journalists' Parliamentary Group are also tabling questions. ®

Related stories:

Home Office in frame over FBI's London server seizures
Feds seize Indymedia servers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Judge nixes HP deal for director amnesty after $8.8bn Autonomy snafu
Lawyers will have to earn their keep the hard way, says court
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.