Police raid: shoot a thousand to hit none!

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Contumacia, our Norwegian server, is off-line due to a police raid (apparently they were sent there to copy the hard disks by Italian inquirers). But don’t panic: mailboxes are encrypted, logs are anonymized and the temporarily unreachable websites will be recovered soon. Besides, we will migrate all mailboxes to a new server and the Norwegian box will not be used anymore. More details will follow on the investigation. Meanwhile, it is unnecessary to say that we will need funds to buy a new server. Think about it, and donate!


It happens, since notoriously police doesn’t know how to aim properly: shoot in the crowd, you might eventually hit your target. Exactly as when they run round-ups, bringing havoc to whole streets as they look for something that might not even exist. The Italian postal police has a bad habit of rummaging in hundreds or even thousands of people’s personal data just to fine one particular message. It has happened again with the server the A/I collective keeps in Norway: its disks have been entirely cloned for an investigation we still cannot know anything about. It is likely that A/I is not directly implied in this supposed enquiry, but whatever may be happening, our users’ data (which were mostly encrypted) have been acquired by someone who could at most show a warrant for one specific search.

It is the principle of hitting hundreds of people to pinpoint one of them: and while they’re at it, seizing all data is too much of a temptation; after all if you won’t find what you are looking for, you’ll have a prize at least to show your police friends.


When such things happen in China or in Iran, crowds of privacy champions pour into the streets to protest against the “regime” spying on its citizens. But if it happens in front of them, they are distracted, perhaps due to the media hype on the petty scandals that haunt this petty country.


Such occurrences require us, all of us, to react quickly, learning to protect our privacy as well as protesting against electronic surveillance, which, clumsy as its claims may be, is in any case unjustified and repressive.


It is also interesting to note that there was no need for this operation: every time we have been asked for logs or information, we have always answered — it is not our fault, if the data they need do not exist or if they find them useless. Actually, we find this is one of our merits. And we think it is also a merit that the R* Plan has allowed us to restore the services that were hit by this raid in no more than 24 hours: for 5 years now we have been telling our users that our aim is avoiding the destruction of our services, while in the meantime we have also realized and tried to tell everybody that each single user is responsible for her own privacy, which depends on your intelligence when you write and read and on your accuracy in never entrusting this fundamental aspect of your life to someone else. Apart from the mailing lists archives, our disks were encrypted, but now they have been copied, and with time no encryption system is unbreakable. So don’t delude yourselves in a false sense of safety.


Support the battle that we will launch as we did after the first crackdown on our server: spread the news we will publish, fight against any restriction to your freedom of communication.
Unlike the police, we want to educate hundreds to hit one — the genius at the postal police who thought that copying 2000 people’s data could be a good idea to find nothing at all.


Updates on https://cavallette.autistici.org/