Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Donna Wentworth @ EFF Deep Links
Govt. Responds; Indymedia Seizure Order May Have Come from Italy

The US government has responded (PDF) to EFF's motion to unseal the mysterious government order that resulted in the seizure of two servers hosting more than 20 Independent Media Center (IMC) websites. The reply, which argues that the order should remain secret, contains details that suggest that the order may have originated in Italy.

In the reply, the government contends that the seizure order should be kept sealed because (1) EFF and our Indymedia clients lack standing to contest the seizure, (2) the request for confidentiality came from an unnamed foreign government pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), trumping the Bill of Rights, and (3) disclosure would imperil "an ongoing criminal terrorism investigation."

EFF strongly disagrees.

So do I. Read the entire EFF post for lots of good details. I have been fighting against MLAT and other transborder law enforcement treaties for years arguing that cases just like this would occur. Most of the arrangements seem to assume that all law enforcement can be trusted and call for special powers to combat cybercrime because it is particularly multinational. These special powers often trump local laws, including in the case above, the Bill of Rights. I can imagine a future where agencies "share" databases of citizen activities and use these databases to create profiles for immigration border protection purposes. That's one of the reasons why I am so against the National ID in Japan. There are people who believe the government should have more central databases of consumer transactions for things like tracking down tax fraud. The risk to the people is that a centralized database would be a very obvious target for foreign agencies. The point is the government can't "share" what it doesn't have.


IANAL but it's intresting to note that if the order came from Italy the treaty helped the prosecutors doing actions that here in Italy wouldn't be possible. The laws here accord many rights to defendants against seizure orders, we have special appeal courts (the so called tribunali della libertà -freedom courts- where the decision can be reviewed immediately) and we absolutely don't have secret orders (not secrets for the defendants at least).

Oh wow. The U.S. government seizes computers owned by Rackspace, dedicated to serving IndyMedia's content, and then attempts to argue that IndyMedia "has no standing" to contest the seizure ? Welcome to a brave new world...

Please, can you say more about that National ID in Japan, or some good links ?
I'm curious about how is preserved the pluralism in the media in that country, too. Any useful link ?

One place is my Japan ese National ID category here. I can't find much on it in English actually. The real name is the "Basic Citizen Registry Database"... maybe Google for that?