APC statement: Internet rights organisations strongly denounce attack on anonymous online speech by US government

By APC Publisher: APC     MONTREAL,

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the following endorsing organisations strongly denounce recent actions by US Federal Authorities that threaten a democratic internet, silencing hundreds of users around the world for the misuse of anonymous internet services by one person.

This week, three politically-progressive internet service providers and hundreds of their users were attacked by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation for supporting the use of the internet by anonymous users. From their joint press release:

“On Wednesday, April 18, at approximately 16:00 Eastern Time, U.S. Federal authorities removed a server from a colocation facility shared by Riseup Networks and May First/People Link in New York City, a statement by the service provider reads. The seized server was operated by the European Counter Network (“ECN”), the oldest independent internet service provider in Europe, who, among many other things, provided an anonymous remailer service, Mixmaster, that was the target of an FBI investigation into the bomb threats against the University of Pittsburgh.”

At this time in history when the internet is under increased surveillance and control by repressive governments around the world, the seizure of email servers in New York by FBI agents sends out a clear signal that democratic governments are ready to arbitrarily circumvent the rule of law.

Jamie McClelland, director of APC member organisation May First/People Link said, “We cannot stop malicious anonymous e-mail without also destroying the ability to use anonymous e-mail for beneficial purposes. According to the news, the bomb threats continue to arrive at University of Pittsburgh after this outrageous seizure. There is no positive outcome to this action by the FBI.”

The FBI has effectively shut down service to hundreds of users and their harsh actions can only be interpreted as threatening to anonymous use of the internet. “Like other anonymizing services such as the TOR network, these remailers are widely used to protect the identity of human rights activists who place themselves and their families in grave danger by reporting information about abuses, the ISP statement continues. Remailers are also important for corporate whistle blowers, democracy activists working under repressive regimes, and others to communicate vital information that would otherwise go un-reported.”

“Such heavy-handed interventions by governments are a violation of US communication law and internet rights, as defined by the Internet Rights Charter, and we call on government leaders to stop these attacks on civil society and internet users’ rights,” stressed APC executive director, Anriette Esterhuysen.

We stand with May First/People Link, Riseup, and the European Counter Network against these attacks on users of the internet who depend on anonymous communication.

If you wish to endorse this statement please send your name and organisation (if applicable) to mallory at apc.org with “Endorsement” in the subject line.

Association for Progressive Communications
May First/People Link
Bytes for All
Green Spider
Violence is not our Culture Campaign
Nodo Tau
Internet Rights and Principles Coalition
Access Now
The Julia Group
National Lawyers Guild, USA
Reclaim Your Space, Pakistan
Deep Dish TV
Mission For Youth Rights, Uganda
Bolo Bhi
Digitale Gesellschaft
European Digital Rights
Digital Rightswatch
BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights
Sociologists Without Borders (SSF)
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and Public Sphere Project
Koumbit Networks, Montreal
Metta Center for Nonviolence
Free Network Foundation
Peace and Justice Studies Association
War Resister’s League, USA
Palante Technology Cooperative
Fellowship of Reconciliation USA
Casino-Free Philadelphia
The Shondes
Dr Peter Waterman
Dr Richard Stallman
Pål M. Lykkja
A. Sprakelaar
Maggi Carter
Tekwe Victor
Walda Katz-Fishman
Fotini Georgakopoulou
Avri Doria
Marc J. Mancini
Mary N. Taylor
S. Kritikos
Meg Miner
Terese Svoboda
ron wickersham
Deirdre Williams
Graeme Booth
Dafna Ganani-Tomares
Marina Vishmidt
ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users Stakeholders Group (NCSG)

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