Web Server Takedown Called Speech Threat
By ELLEN SIMON, AP Technology Writer
Devin Theriot-Orr, a member a feisty group of reporter-activists called Indymedia, was surprised when two FBI agents showed up at his Seattle law office, saying the visit was a "courtesy call" on behalf of Swiss authorities.
Theriot-Orr was even more surprised a week later when more than 20 Indymedia Web sites were knocked offline as the computer servers that hosted them were seized in Britain.
The Independent Media Center, more commonly known as Indymedia, says the seizure is tantamount to censorship, and civil libertarians agree. The Internet is a publishing medium just like a printing press, they argue, and governments have no right to remove Web sites.
The case, which involves an Internet company based in Texas, photos of undercover Swiss police officers and a request from an Italian prosecutor investigating anarchists, raises questions about the circumstances under which Internet companies can be compelled to turn over data.