Hidden camera records FBI returning snatched anonymous remailer server

Riseup, a "progressive Internet organization" that operates an anonymous remailer had its servers seized by the FBI without notice two weeks ago. They installed a little CCTV camera after the seizure. On Wednesday, that camera recorded footage of the FBI putting the servers back.

On April 18, 2012, a Riseup server located in MF/PL's colocation cabinet and managed by ECN, a progressive provider in Italy, was seized by the FBI. MF/PL found out about the seizure when Riseup reported that there was no response from the server. Technologists visited the server location and found that the machine had been removed.

The FBI is investigating bomb threats being made to facilities and people at the University of Pittsburgh and believed that one of the servers used to email these threats was an anonymous email server operated by ECN. "These servers have no logs or traces of who used them," MF/PL Director Jamie McClelland said. "Nothing useful could be gotten from this seizure but there is a concrete outcome: the seizure disrupted May First's work and disrupted the communications of hundreds of people who lawfully use that server for email and website services everyday."

Anonymous email servers keep no records of their users and are frequently used by activists, organizers and information sources world-wide.

FBI returns Riseup server to May First/People Link cabinet (Thanks, Jacob!)


  1. The same laws that allow the CIA to kidnap people here in italy, I’d guess..

    I’m wondering if they’ll trust that computer from now on. You can wipe the disk multiple times, clean the MBR, reflash the BIOS, etc, but it would take a lot more time and energy to make sure they didn’t stick something funny in em than it would to build and re-install another one.

    1.  Yep, my first thought was “md5sum the bios, test that thing for ring zero hacks”.

  2. I’m sure whoever placed the cameras will be prosecuted. That’s illegal, you know.

  3. Was this FBI siezure malice or gross incompetence?  I’m having a hard time telling.

      1. If incompetence seizures were a thing, US government officials would not be allowed to drive.

  4. Upshot: Server can never be trusted again, nor any private keys installed on server, nor any session keys. Hundreds of people now must jump through their *coughcough* because the FBI are *coughcough*.

  5. “They installed a little CCTV camera after the seizure.”
    Ambiguous pronoun– is “they” the FBI or Riseup?

    1. From the article linked above:

      The footage, taken by a small surveillance camera MF/PL technologists installed after the FBI seizure of the server, is a rare glimpse of what appears to be an FBI operation.

  6. C’mon, dude.  take that coat to a tailor.  $20 can go a long way with a cheap jacket.  

  7. The server doesn’t keep logs, but the FBI (through that server) does now :)  

  8. So THAT’S why Dr. Evil never answered my email!
    For a while, I thought Mini-Me was intercepting  them, but see, that was just me being paranoid.

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