When hosting provider Rackspace sent a complete copy of the hard drive of Indymedia's website to the FBI, the company did so without any legal basis or obligation. This is, according to the EFF, what is shown by recently unsealed court documents (PDF download here).
The quick facts (read the full story here)
- Italy in October 2004 wants to see log files for Indymedia.org and files an official request with the FBI.
- A Texas assistant US attorney hands a subpoena to Rackspace, that hosts the websites from its London location.
- Rackspace takes the websites offline
- Rackspace makes a copy of the server's hard disk, not just the requested log files, and sends it to the FBI
The subpoena now shows that the full copy was never requested, and therefore should never have been surrendered.
"When Rackspace received a government demand to examine logs that didn't exist, it had a responsibility to the customer and to the principles of freedom of the press to fight the order and resolve this without taking more than 20 news sites off the Internet," said Kurt Opsahl, EFF staff attorney.
"Rackspace employees searched for the specific information requested in the subpoena but were unable to locate this information prior to the strict delivery deadline imposed by the FBI. In order to comply with the mandated deadline, Rackspace delivered copied drives to the FBI," spokeswoman Annalie Drusch told vnunet.com.
Never mind due process, the freedom of speech or the freedom that protects individuals against unauthorized searches by authorities. Rackspace obviously didn't want any trouble with the FBI and decided to suck up.
If Rackspace were your landlord, they would let in the police without even asking for a search warrant - they would even do the search for them.
That's a great signal to send to your customers: "If you ever have any run-in with the authorities, we'll turn our back you – our paying customer. No questions asked. Because customer commitment and pleasing uncle Sam don't mix."
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