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FBI Caught On Camera Returning Seized Server 267

Posted by timothy
from the but-we-were-just-pampering-the-evidence dept.
sunbird writes "As previously covered on Slashdot, on April 18th the FBI seized a server located in a New York colocation facility shared by May First / People Link and Riseup.net. The server, which was operated by the European Counter Network ('ECN'), the oldest independent internet service provider in Europe, was seized in relation to bomb threats sent to the University of Pittsburgh using a Mixmaster anonymous remailer hosted on the server (search warrant). The FBI's action has been criticized by the EFF. Predictably, the threats continued even after the server seizure. On April 24th, the FBI quietly returned the server, without notifying either Mayfirst / People Link or riseup, and were caught on video doing it."
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FBI Caught On Camera Returning Seized Server

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @01:37PM (#39880727) Homepage Journal

    Due process and transparency?

    This is borderline "coverup" activity.

  • Re:Noobs much? (Score:4, Informative)

    by PRMan (959735) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @01:48PM (#39880859)
    There were no cameras when they took it. May 1st secretly installed cameras after the original theft (a seizure requires notification).
  • by yakatz (1176317) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @01:52PM (#39880891) Homepage Journal
    I think the concern stopping them from using the server now is the fear that the FBI modified "something" to log or report on traffic going through the server.
    Absent the implementation questions of whether there will be anything useful in the logs, when someone takes you equipment and returns it later without comment, it is not unreasonable to assume that something happened to it.

    (Note: I have participated in DoJ forensic training. The FBI procedures should be similar.)
    As to the validity of the concern: Investigators are not usually allowed to mount storage media in read/write mode. If they do so, any evidence obtained from that media will no longer be admissible in court. While many labs do have non-forensic connectors for storage media, they are usually not used for fear of accidentally tampering with the evidence.
    Investigators will make copies of media and manipulate the copies, but the originals will never be changed.
    This does not say that there is no way from them to put some kind of logging software/firmware/hardware on the server, but it is pretty unlikely.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday May 03, 2012 @02:15PM (#39881101)

    How is this a "coverup"? There was a properly adjudicated warrant to seize the server in the first place (whether or not it was over-broad, and whether or not someone agrees with the reasoning). Law enforcement is not obligated to make public announcements — and this story was covered widely.

    For the people saying this is a Fourth Amendment violation, do people really think the FBI just routinely rolls onto private property without a legal justification for doing so? Again, saying "we weren't notified of the server's seizure or return" has nothing to do with the legality of either action.

    In the first discussion, many were lamenting the possibility that the server may not be returned for months, if ever; now it's been returned (probably after having its drive(s) imaged) in a timely fashion and that's a bad thing, too? The issue of notification or announcement is irrelevant to the law.

    What I would be concerned about is if the FBI entered private property without permission and without a legal basis — for example, via continuing coverage by one or more warrants to enter the property. Notice that is not what is being alleged here, just what some people are assuming...

  • by a90Tj2P7 (1533853) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @02:17PM (#39881129)

    Normally, in a free society, any interactions with Law Enforcement would be above board and you would be notified.

    Riseup and May First/Peoplelink weren't notified. They also didn't own the server or the space. Nothing says that the FBI didn't notify ECN.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Thursday May 03, 2012 @02:38PM (#39881405) Homepage

    The guys who installed the camera (May First / People Link) are claiming that they were not notified when the server was seized or when it was replaced.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:01PM (#39881831)

    No, I think he/she had a point.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @03:50PM (#39882703) Homepage Journal

    How is this a "coverup"? There was a properly adjudicated warrant to seize the server in the first place (whether or not it was over-broad, and whether or not someone agrees with the reasoning). Law enforcement is not obligated to make public announcements — and this story was covered widely.

    First, according to TFA:

    Neither May First/People Link or Riseup was not notified that the server was being replaced. It was never notified that the server was taken in the first place.

    In order for a warrant to be "properly adjudicated," it is required that the law enforcement agency serve the warrant to the property owner. By not notifying the property owner of the warrant, they violated the 4th Amendment.

    The link to the warrant is down, but if the scope is beyond the specific "place to be searched, and property to be seized" then it, again, was not a legal warrant as per the Fourth Amendment.

    For the people saying this is a Fourth Amendment violation, do people really think the FBI just routinely rolls onto private property without a legal justification for doing so?

    The FBI has a long history of blatant violation of civil rights, as well as literally making criminals for the sake of "busting" them, thus justifying their existence (which, in government doublespeak, translates to "budget"). That said, it would be more surprising to me to find out that the legal rights of the property owner were honored.

    Again, saying "we weren't notified of the server's seizure or return" has nothing to do with the legality of either action.

    Again, for a warrant to be legal, it has to be served to the property owner (i.e., they must be made aware that their property is to be searched, and what property is to be seized). So actually, it has everything to do with the legality of the action.

    In the first discussion, many were lamenting the possibility that the server may not be returned for months, if ever; now it's been returned (probably after having its drive(s) imaged) in a timely fashion and that's a bad thing, too? The issue of notification or announcement is irrelevant to the law.

    Considering the history of the FBI, as well as recently passed legislation that greatly (and unconstitutionally) expands the power of federal agencies, I think a little paranoia is appropriate. If the feds had honorable intentions, why wouldn't they notify the property owners? What possible justification would they have for putting the server back in place without telling anyone, if not for nefarious purposes?

    What I would be concerned about is if the FBI entered private property without permission and without a legal basis — for example, via continuing coverage by one or more warrants to enter the property. Notice that is not what is being alleged here, just what some people are assuming...

    Trespassing is illegal; any evidence gained illegally cannot be admitted in court; therefore, if the FBI did indeed trespass, then any case they may have had is now dead by their own hand.


    Of course, all my words are based on the assumption that the Constitution still matters, and is actually followed by law enforcement, which we all know damn good and well isn't the case.

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