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Censorship amid controversy over police on indymedia

indyl33ks | 25.01.2011 01:41 | Indymedia Server Seizure | Indymedia | Other Press | Repression | Birmingham | Sheffield

Last week the respected alternative news project SchNEWS published a story revealing long term malicious use of indymedia by elements within the states police apparatus. The piece was base on the so-called 303 Gateway article written collaboratively by a number of indymedia admins and proposed in secret as a feature for the UK site over six months ago. The proposal was blocked by London and Northern IMC. They claim they failed to get agreement on amendments aimed at distancing themselves from admissions within the article that indymedia admins had in fact had access to IP logs despite having repeatedly said the opposite in the past. Both London and Northern said that they would have no objection to the article being published as a feature on Indymedia UK if it was made clear within the article that the IP logging was a feature found within the MIR content management system used by IMC UK and its regional sites Birmingham, Cambridge, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and South Coast, not those using alternative CMS such as Bristol, London, Northern, Nottingham and Scotland. However it seem tonight that their claim has be proven a lie...

The draft article stated, "what has never been openly stated before is that the CMS system we use has a number of anti-abuse measures which include the ability to monitor for particular IP addresses and log their behaviour." The draft goes on to say, "site admins believed that they would never be able to gain the trust of posters, if the range of anti-abuse measures were made public. As is often the case, once a body has failed to be completely open about something, it becomes 'the elephant in the room' and so a situation was created where the new and current admins were actively blocked from bringing these measures into the open. The stalemate continued until now, with site admins proposing a new approach of coming clean about the measures that are in place, and others in the collective blocking this."

Prophetically, that stalemate over coming clean about the IP logging meant that no consensus was possible on publishing the article. There was no way that the information about the governments disinfo campaign could be published without revealing that indymedia had been lying about IP logs. Apparently some suggested it could be published via a different alt media outlet while leaving out the info about indymedia but the story would have been weak without the evidence gathered by indymedia admins.

The impasse remained but then the draft article was leaked by a disgruntled admin using the name 'indyleaks'. The posts were repeatedly hidden from the indymedia sites it was posted to and a filter set up on IMC UK to automatically hide it whenever posted.

There remains no consensus about publishing the article which includes a frank admission that indymedia has misled its user since 2003. However the lack of consensus is now a moot point since SchNEWS has ran the story and Birmingham IMC has published the 303 gateway article as a feature on it's own site.

Both the story about the government running a disinfo campaign via indymedia, and the story that indymedia UK has been hiding the truth about IP logging for all these years, that is big news for activists at a time when trust is already in short supply.

As the article says "continuing to gloss over the reality in a misleading way was detrimental to Indymedia UK, and that there was no small likelihood that at some stage we could be outed." Now that the truth is out, lets hope indymedia can recover from the damage to its credibility and move on to become more open and honest with its users.


Tonight a new version of the article was published on the so-called 'open' newswires of London and Northen indymedia. The article had been rewritten so as to leave no doubt that the controversial IP logging by admins related only to those sites hosted on the IMC-UK. Despite this, the article was instantly hidden on both London and Northern.

Looking in the archives of their respective moderation lists we can see the excuses given for these acts of censorship. The anonymous moderator at Northern states, "this article does not have the consensus of the network to publish". (

Meanwhile the London moderator, Startx, gives the laughably circular justification, "repost of imc uk article" despite the fact that this was a new version of the article written to address the objections of the London collective and that attempts to post the original article on the IMC-UK newswire had been persistently frustrated by a filter set up by another London moderator which automatically hid the lot.

The censorship of the news about police use of indymedia has not been restricted to just moderators in Northern and London but some apparently more sane moderators did voice some concerns. Owen asked whether indymedia was "now in the business of information control rather than open publishing?" after a moderator using the pseudo name FTP reported that he had hidden a number of articles because they merely linked to the SchNEWS piece based on the article 'which is subject to blocks'. (

Owen replied, "That's not a valid reason for hiding. Schnews have published a story. Someone proposed making a feature out of it. The proposal to make a feature about it was blocked.

"None of that is a justification for hiding a newswire post. You can block a story from being made into a feature, but you cannot block *users* from publishing on the *newswire* unless they have breached the editorial guidelines."

"Unless I've missed something and we're now in the business of information
control rather than open publishing? Do those articles breach the guidelines in some way?"

He concluded, "I'm upset that we as a collective are exacerbating the loss of trust some
users will feel after reading this story, by trying to censor it when it's already out there."

To sum up, since at least June last year, people within indymedia in the UK have individually and collectively worked to prevent news of widespread abuse of the indymedia site by police. Those attempts at censorship are still ongoing. Something has clearly gone very wrong within indymedia.

For more on this issue see

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Display the following 40 comments

  1. Important stuff — reader
  2. What the hell is going on? — Danny
  3. To be fair — FTP
  4. It's obvious what's happening.... — Indymedia is heavily infiltrated!
  5. A manufactured controversy — anon
  6. They need to know IP addresses so police and other trolls can be blocked. — geeksec
  7. Many trolls are not technically literate and wouldn't use a web proxy — anon
  8. How it really works — in51der
  9. Arms race — IMCista
  10. Where is a collective responce? — Danny
  11. In case of confusion — a different Danny
  12. If the admins could see IP addresses, they would know it was a different Danny — anon
  13. Techniques of disinfo — Anna
  14. likewise — FTP
  15. Optional registration on other indymedia sites — Danny
  16. Something constructive — Stroppyoldgit
  17. Wasn't me! — FTP
  18. Thanks for your honesty — Still not convinced
  19. q & a — a different Danny
  20. This will go down as the "IP-Logging Gate" scandal — anon
  21. Yeah Great idea.... — Gateway 303
  22. My personal view — Another IMC Mod
  23. Censorship continuing on London Indymedia — FTP
  24. London Bullshit — Lyne
  25. Nottingham any better? — How deep does that rabbit hole go?
  26. It's Working — Zadok the Priest
  27. Handwashing? — urban75
  28. Good idea, statements from all — Answers on a postcard
  29. Re: "Answers on a postcard" — postcard vendor
  30. London admin continues censorship — indyl33ks
  31. @ indyl33ks — Not very effective censorship
  32. Hang on a minute - the first comment says the Butterfield comment was a troll — anon
  33. There are no logs — No Logs
  35. re: Hang on a minute - the first comment says the Butterfield comment was a trol — Correction
  36. OK, so Butterfield post was genuine after all — anon
  37. Butterfield Post — Just Because
  38. Oh FFS — Knot Eyed Jaguar
  39. @Just Because — anon
  40. Cheap goods — erttwyyp