APC condemns “arbitrary” seizure of IndyMedia web servers by US and European law enforcers
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, Oct 12
APC condemns the actions by US and European law enforcement agencies to seize independent online news service Indymedia’s web servers, which has led to the closure of more than 21 of the more than 140 Indymedia web sites worldwide since October 7.
“We are disturbed by the apparently arbitrary and extreme measures taken to silence an independent internet-based source of information,” said Anriette Esterhuysen, APC’s Executive Director. “This is a violation of freedom of expression across international frontiers.”
None of the agencies involved has admitted or provided reasons for the seizure though Rackspace, the company which provided web hosting for the sites and handed the servers over to law enforcers, said in a statement that their action was "in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT)". MLAT establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations regarding international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering and so using it to remove an independent news source would appear to be an abuse.
APC is of the view that the provisions of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers" have been violated by the US and European governments.
APC opposes censorship on the internet and states in its Internet Rights Charter that “the internet is a medium for both public and private exchange of views and information. People must be able to express opinions and ideas, and share information freely when using the internet.”
APC is of the view that the right of freedom of expression and access to the internet of the citizens of Ambazonia, Andorra, Antwerpen, Belgrade, Brazil, East and West Vlaanderen, Euskal Herria, Galiza, Germany, Italy, Liege, Lilles, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Poland, Portugal, Prague, Uruguay, Western Massachusetts, and the UK (where the affected IndyMedia Centres are) has been violated. As freedom is indivisible, a violation of one citizen’s rights is a violation of all global citizens’ rights.
APC understands the difficulties that server farms like Rackspace face when prosecutors come knocking at their door, flashing court orders and demanding the immediate hand-over of their equipment. APC urges that internet service provider (ISP) associations and other industry associations take precautions to protect their members from becoming unintentionally complicit in the violation of freedom of speech. There is a need for ISPs to have access to information about their rights to protect their clients.
APC demands that the US and European governments concerned provide reasons for their actions and explain their violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on what basis they made use of the MLAT to silence Indymedia, an independent source of information on the internet.
“European and North American governments which frequently point to human rights abuses in countries from the Global South need to explain their own apparently arbitrary abuse of Indymedia’s rights and those of its readers,” said Anriette Esterhuysen.
APC Internet Rights Charter: http://rights.apc.org/charter.shtml
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network of civil society organisations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals through the strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially internet-related technologies. APC’s network of members and partners in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America all support the use of internet and ICTs for social justice and sustainable development.