Censorship doesn’t happen, but it works

Communiqué from the 08.04.2010

The website of Autonome Antifa Freiburg is being hosted in Iceland since the 22nd of March 2010. The reason for this is repeated censorship of our website by the political police. We would like to thank our previous provider JPBerlin for years of trustful cooperation, but unfortunately its servers are located in Germany. In 1984 Hosting we have found a new provider who is actively engaged for free software and against surveillance, just like JPBerlin. We chose Iceland because the world’s most progressive media law is being made there.

Our decision to migrate www.autonome-antifa.org to Iceland was triggered by the temporary shutting down of the website on the 13th of October 2009 by the police. In the course of administrative assistance for Freiburg police, Berlin police threatened our provider with legal consequences. After receiving a request for assistance from their Freiburg colleagues, the Berlin Police threatened our provider with court action. We requested that people coming to the demonstration, that we did not register with the authorities, conceal their identity by wearing masks. We then added a request, that the police chief Heiner Amman be dismissed from his job. Due to this JPBerlin was forced to shut down the site.

The website could only go online again after we had deleted the sentences they disapproved of. The shutting down of the website was carried out by the police without consulting a judge and without informing the public prosecution’s department. With this, the police were acting as political agents. We assume that the reason behind the repression is to be found in our antifascist investigative reporting and publications. Shortly after this, on the 23rd of October 2009, the website of the Autonomous Centre KTS Freiburg was censored. The provider of www.kts-freiburg.org was told to change the “call for a demonstration” or face the legal consequences.

On the 25th of October, www.autonome-antifa.org was censored again because of the same incident. On the 14th of January, we had to change a news item on our website because, once again, the police felt insulted by it. We have been threatened regularly with criminal prosecution by lawyers and police if we refuse to take personal details and pictures of Nazis offline. But the censored content didn’t get lost, since duplicates of the texts were published on Indymedia linksunten. This website is hosted in the United States and is thus out of reach of German authorities.

Repression against left-wing websites is not limited to Freiburg. On the 23rd of January for example, the website of the antifascist allliance www.dresden-nazifrei.de was censored. Dresedens public prosecutor interpreted the call for blockading Europe’s largest Nazi rally since the end of World War II as a call for violence. They forced the provider to remove its page by threatening them with “accomplice to a breach of the peace” if they did not carry out self-cencorship. As a reaction to this, the alliance changed their domain to www.dresden-nazifrei.com in the US.

And by no means do all cases of censorship become public. Norbert „Nogge“ Lecheler, singer of the Nazi band „Faustrecht“ („Rule of Force“), tried for example to censor antifascist websites by legal means. In an e-mail from the 14th of March, Lecheler informed Thorsten Glass in an e-mail with the subject „Violation of the right to informal (sic!) self-determination“ about filing charges. Glass is the organiser of a Nazi concert with the „Blood&Honour“ band „Faustrecht“ planned for the 22nd of May 2010 near Stuttgart. We “outed” this concert with our communiqué from the 13th of March 2010 ( de | it | en | fr ). An antifascist blog on blogsport.de was forced by Lecheler to delete a copy of our communiqué.

There are more and more debates in the European Union about further limitations of freedom in the internet. On the 23rd of February 2010 a law came into effect in Germany which allows websites to be blocked. On the 2nd of March, the law for traffic data retention made for the surveillance of all telecommunication data without a specific goal or suspicion was declared illegal by the German Federal Constitutional Court. But with this the judges declared for the first time that data retention is principally permitted and thus watered down the 1983 decision regarding the population census and the right to informational self-determination.

In France a law came into force on the 12th of May 2009 called the „Law for the Circulation and the Protection of Creative Content in the Internet“. With this, the legal foundation was laid to ban people from using the internet for one year and at the same time force them to continue to pay their ISP in the case of copyright infringements. The sanctions can be imposed without the decision of a judge by a newly founded censorship department with the euphemistic name „Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet“ (High Authority for the Circulation of Works and the Protection of Rights in the Internet“).

In the United Kingdom, a law passed the House of Lords on the 15th of March 2010 which allows for sanctions such as the reduction of internet speed or the temporary disruption of internet connection. At the same time, members of government are able to change the copyright through the use of decrees issued by the government. A confidential working paper by the Council of Ministers of the EU leaked to the press disclosed that during negotiations regarding the international secret agreement on trademark and counterfeiting (ACTA), suspension of internet sites and the liability of ISPs were discussed.

But it is not only the EU that knows how to implement restrictive laws. On the 28th of June 2008, 241 Nazis were outed after attending a march to commemorate a battle in the Swiss canton of lucerne. The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner looked into the legal situation regarding the “publication of personal data in the internet when reporting on public events.” Even though it was acknowledged that “only anonymously reporting an event, such as what occurs regularly in Indymedia, allows for freedom of expression in many cases. It is thus an important part of the freedom of press.“ Nevertheless, the publication was declared illegal, since no „specifically public interest in an individual person“ existed according to them. But the „infringements on personal rights could most likely not be prosecuted and rectified“, if the website „is being hosted in (non-European) foreign country.“

In Iceland the majority of people felt the fatal consequences of a resticted press freedom. In the middle of 2009, a document of Kaupþing Bank was published on wikileaks.org. It disclosed uncovered credit approvals for major shareholders of the bank and large-scale flight of capital in the days just before the financial collapse. A news item about the document was blocked by a preliminary injunction initiated by the bank in the prime time news broadcasts of RÚV TV. This motivated Wikileaks and the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which is accepted across party lines, into initiating a new media law for Iceland. On the 25th of February, a parliamentary commission was asked unanimously to review the legislative proposal.

Even though we aim for more data protection, we name the organisers of fascism in our communiqués, we quote their e-mails and we publish their plans. We do this to dissolve local chapters of the NPD („National Democratic Party of Germany“, the biggest German Nazi party), to sabotage Nazi concerts and to prevent bomb attacks. Protection of our sources and our communication as is being envisioned by the new Icelandic media law, is not an end in itself: Nazis are murderers. The protection of archives against legal attacks is important for autonomous antifascist politics, as well. We are fighting against fascism, but we also take part in social movements for revolutionary change of society. The only archives of the movements have been created by the movements themselves and no one will tell our story but us.

Off to Iceland!

Autonome Antifa Freiburg


Reactions are on linksunten.indymedia.org

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [íslenska] [italiano]