Serious Crime Act used in connection with Indymedia

Source: an Indymedia journalist

Kent Police arrested a man in Sheffield yesterday (11 February 2009) under the Serious Crime Act 2007 in relation to the recent Indymedia server seizure. His home was raided, all computer equipment and related papers taken. He was released after eight hours.

Statement from SACC: SACC condemns the arrest as a totally inappropiate use of the criminal law to target and harass political activists. The Serious Crime Act gave the police draconian and vaguely defined powers in a misconceived effort to help them fight serious crime. MPs who voted these powers onto the statute book probably assumed that the police would show some restraint and common sense. They were wrong

The person had neither technical, administrative nor editorial access to the Indymedia UK website. He was only associated to the project by hosting its server.

The arrest took place under Section 44-46 of the Serious Crime Act, which was passed into law on 1st October 2008 to combat serious international crime like drug trafficking, prostitution, money laundering and armed robbery. Sections 44-46 refer to "encouraging or assisting offences".

Kent police claim that they are after the IP address of the poster of two anonymous comments to a report about the recent SHAC court case, which included personal details of the respecive Judge. These details had already been swiftly removed as violating IMC UKs editorial and privacy policy. The IP adress of the poster is not stored on the seized server, as Indymedia does not log IP addresses. This was acknowledged by British Transport Police in 2005, after the Bristol IMC server seizure.

For the police to arrest the person who happened to sign the contract for server hosting, is sheer intimidation, in light of Indymedia’s openly stated policy of no IP logging.

With the implementation of the EU Data Detention Retention Directive in March 2009, the UK government attempts to turn every internet service provider in the country into part of the law enforcement apparatus.

apparatus. This legislation will provide a legal basis to track, intimidate, harass, and arrest people who are doing valuable and necessary work for social change, for example peace activists, campaigners for economic justice, people working against police brutality, and many other issues.

The present intimidation of the open publishing alternative news platform indymedia will have serious implications for anyone running a server in the UK which allows user contributions – blogs, social networking sites, wikis. It is an example for obstructing the running of websites that respect the privacy of their contributors, pure and simple.