Riseup Networks has issued a press release to reveal that the FBI has seized a server from a facility the company shares with May First/People Link, as part of an investigation into bomb threats made against the University of Pittsburgh (UP).
According to the company’s statement, the server, operated by European Counter Network (ECN), hosted the anonymous remailer service Mixmaster, that’s been known to be used by cybercriminals.
Mixmaster is a service similar to Tor, designed to offer anonymity for legitimate purposes. Human rights activists, corporate whistleblowers, democracy activists and others who fear that they would be in jeopardy if their identities became known, all rely on such services.
“The company running the facility has confirmed that the server was removed in conjunction with a search warrant issued at the request of the FBI. The server seizure is not only an attack against us, but an attack against all users of the Internet who depend on anonymous communication,” said May First/People Link Director Jamie McClelland.
While Riseup representatives understand that the University of Pittsburg may be affected by the bomb threats, they also blame the FBI for “grasping at straws” in this case and disrupting the work of innocent bystanders.
These people include artists, academics, feminist, gay rights and free speech groups, a Mexican migrant solidarity group, and many others.
“The FBI is using a sledgehammer approach, shutting down service to hundreds of users due to the actions of one anonymous person. This is particularly misguided because there is unlikely to be any information on the server regarding the source of the threatening emails,” said Devin Theriot-Orr, a Riseup spokesperson.
Moreover, Theriot-Orr believes that the network of anonymous remailers that currently exists is not harmed by this move, especially because the device taken by authorities didn’t contain any useful information that could help the investigation.