Statement of Matt Toups Regarding Secret Service Investigation of Indymedia

August 30, 2004 12:00 am

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I have been a volunteer with Indymedia for more than two years. I do technical work as a systems administrator to support our organization internationally, as well as contributing to my local branch of Indymedia in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I produce radio segments, photography, and video.

My technical work with Indymedia has made me a target of a baseless Secret Service investigation. I manage computer systems, two of which are hosted at Calyx Internet Access, in order to further the Indymedia goal of Open Publishing — democratizing the media by allowing for all people to publish the news and ideas that are important to them, making citizens active contributors to news rather than passive consumers. This model differs from the mainstream media’s model, which we believe disempowers all of those but the most powerful in our society. I am proud to have worked to facilitate Open Publishing systems for Indymedia groups, which are now based in over 120 cities around the world.

The right of an author to choose anonymity is an important part of what Indymedia stands for because we work to create a safe space for dissenting views. Unfortunately the United States is becoming an increasingly repressive and chilling environment for free speech, thanks to government harassment efforts like the recent attempts to question Indymedia and other activist groups in New York for the Republican National Convention.

Though Indymedia is not responsible for the content posted anonymously to the website, we support the contributor’s right to remain anonymous and free of the government’s politically motivated harassment and surveillance. We have a stated, longstanding policy of not logging Internet addresses of our website contributors to protect their anonymity. Although the information the Secret Service was concerned with — a list of RNC Delegates and their contact information — was totally legal and in fact already publicly available, they have still tried to intimidate our Internet provider Calyx and Indymedia volunteers. We are proud to work with the ACLU to stop the Secret Service’s attempt at intimidation of Indymedia and our contributors.

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