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Civil Liberties Update: Oakland FBI Contacts Indymedia Volunteer

Information about FBI contact with Indymedia volunteers today, Nov 2, 2001.
November 2, 2001 - The FBI contacted volunteers from the Independent Media Center (indymedia) in San Francisco today. Agent Chuck Esposito, from the Oakland FBI office, telephoned "Espe," a volunteer who has worked with the San Francisco Indymedia collective.

Agent Esposito asked Espe if he had access to server logs, if he administered "indymedia sites," and if he had access to the server. Espe only replied that he could not answer questions without the presence of an attorney. Agent Esposito asked Espe if he knew what the call was about or if anyone else had contacted him. Espe said, "No, care to fill me in?" Agent Esposito replied, "not until I'm ready." Agent Esposito also mentioned something about "terrorist threats," but Espe could not recall the exact context.

Other IMC volunteers immediately called the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who helped Indymedia when Seattle IMC was served with an order by the FBI in April. According to information obtained by an EFF representative, Agent Esposito was given indymedia contact information by the Seattle FBI office, and was instructed to follow up on a lead they had received. The lead involved some kind of "anthrax threat." Agent Esposito indicated that the FBI is interested in reviewing Indymedia server logs. Agent Esposito also indicated that, to his knowledge, the "threat" appeared on the Arizona IMC website.

Following the FBI order in April, the Indymedia tech collective decided to stop recording IP addresses of website visitors. The IP address is the "key" to identifying website visitors. Without IP addresses, most Indymedia web traffic is anonymous. However, this is not absolute protection. Use of internet spying and devices like Carnivore allow the FBI to obtain this information without going through Indymedia.

Website users who wish to remain anonymous should utilize "anonymous web proxies." These are websites which allow you to surf other websites, while protecting your identity. Not all anonymizer services are safe. For instance, SafeWeb.com, based in Oakland, is largely funded by the CIA. Currently, many people are relying on the anonymizer offered by the European Counter Network, at proxy1.autistici.org/

www.indymedia.org/fbi/

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