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Date: 1999-11-26

Zensur: FBI holt Y2K-Video vom Netz

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Filmemacher stellt y2K Video ins Netz, sehr zum Missfallen
der gesetzlich ermächtigten Behörden. Erst wird der Künstler
unter Druck gesetzt, dann sein Provider - schon ist das Video
wieder weg. So einfach geht das sogar in einem Land, das
Meinungsfreiheit als eines der höchsten Güter schätzt.
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In a highly unusual move last week, FBI agents called mike
zieper, an independent artist who goes by thename Mike Z.,
and "requested" that he remove his site from the Internet.
When he declined, the FBI worked in tandem with the U.S.
Attorney's office to persuade his Web host and its server to
pull Zieper's site—18 days after it went up—without having a
subpoena or court order of any kind.

Mike Z.'s Web site showed an eerie but amateur video that
purports to be a military briefing. The clip opens with fuzzy
shots of Times Square, over which an unseen male voice
describes a secret army plan to incite a race riot on New
Year's Eve. "First Team," he says "you're all here by oh?four
hundred," and he then instructs undercover black agents to
"Give them a little of the Amadou shit, agitate it."
The FBI's call came when Mike Z. was at a friend's house
last Thursday watching his UPN 9 interview. Suddenly, his
pager hummed, and when he called the number back, it
turned out to be the local New Jersey sheriff's department at
his front door with two FBI agents in tow, wondering if they
could come in for a chat.
Instead, Z. contacted attorneys and put his computer in
storage. But the agents made an end run around him. When
Z. refused to pull his site, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's
office contacted Z.'s host, BECamation, the next day. And
that was all it took. "I had no choice but to pull the site down
completely or I would have lost my business," says Mark
Wieger, BECamation's president, who feared that his own
ISP would cut him off. Lisa Korologos, an assistant U.S.
Attorney, requested that Wieger "remove the content so that
it could not be distributed," Wieger says. (Both the U.S.
Attorney's office and the FBI had no comment.)
While Internet service providers are commonly subpoened by
law enforcement officials, an attorney who specializes in
cyber liberties at the ACLU could not recall a similar case in
which the officers acted without a warrant. "I've never heard of
anything like this involving the FBI," said Ann Beeson, a staff
attorney at the ACLU.
Even though the ISP may not have been told, 'You must take
it down,' there are still serious constitutional problems," says
Beeson. "It is certainly constitutionally suspect for law
enforcement to implicitly threaten any private entity with
censorship." (The ACLU is considering a suit.)

Full Story

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published on: 1999-11-26
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