Bristol IMC Court Order
Police serve Bytemark with production order for Bristol Indymedia information
Bristol Indymedia has been hosted on a Bytemark Debian virtual server since the last server seizure in 2005 [ 1 | 2 ] during the run up to the G8. From then up until November 2013 the site was running Oscailt, in March 2014 it was re-launched as a WordPress site "using the software modremoveip". On 14th August 2014 Bristol Indymedia switched off open publishing on the site for a summer break with the intention in September to "review whether we have the time and inclination to turn publishing back on".
On 27th August 2014 Bristol Indymedia reported that, "the police had a court order to access the Bristol Indymedia server. We don’t know for sure, but assume that our web hosts have complied with the order and given the police this access". Bristol Indymedia disabled open publishing on the server and said "it is unlikely that open publishing of news items will ever be re-enabled as it would require complete re-installation of the server".
Since then the only source of further information has been from an article in The Times which reported that the PACE special procedure production order obtained by Avon and Somerset Police and served on Bytemark on 15th August 2014 "demands access to the details of administrators and bill-payers, login credentials, information on those who posted articles and the IP addresses of everyone who visited the site over an unspecified period". The court order served on Bytemark hasn't been published. The Times has reported that the Police have said that, "No arrests have been made in connection with this incident".
Unfortunately a, now hidden, fabricated article containing intentional lies, claiming that "owing to an administration error by one of the techies all IP address details for the past 16 months were still stored on the server", was picked up by various sources, including The Times, before it was removed. This is a classic example of disinformation, "intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately" used the classic tactic "to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies". The propagation of this disinformation, as misinformation, "information that is unintentionally false", has occurred on activist discussion boards and Twitter. The nature of open publishing (pioneered by Indymedia — anyone can post an article) is vunerable to abuse — in the past The Police have posted disinformation including comments inviting activists undertake illegal activity.
There is no reason to disbelieve Bristol Indymedia's relaunch article and publishing page that stated that they installed Apache mod_remove IP, this means that WordPress would never have access to the client's IP address. However the site didn't use encrypted connections for reading or publishing (HTTPS), probably didn't have an encrypted filesystem. Thanks to Edward Snowden's revelations there is now evidence that GCHQ presumably have logs for all connections to the server via their tapping of the Internet backbone. However GCHQ's illegally gathered evidence would not be admissable in court — it is possible the Police were seeking evidence for parallel construction — "building a parallel - or separate - evidentiary basis for a criminal investigation in order to conceal how the investigation began".
Corporate Coverage: The Times: Activist website Indymedia shuts down after police raid (repost) | The Bristol Post: Anarchist website Bristol Indymedia to close following police raid (repost)
Activist Coverage: Urban75: Indymedia Bristol raided by plod, servers accessed! | LibCom: Sources and the police raid on Bristol Indymedia