Around lunch today, the German Pirate Party (Piratenpartei) sent out an alarming tweet that spread like wildfire. “Our servers are offline due to police intervention. Do not panic, this is our turn. More information to follow.” The German police had taken the Piratenpartei out — two days before general elections in a state in Germany.
Apparently, the French police force had asked its German counterpart to secure evidence in an investigation that was not related to the Piratenpartei, and some of this information was on one of the Piratenpartei’s servers. Rather than accepting assistance from the Piratenpartei in securing this particular piece of information, the police instead chose to seize the entire server farm and take it offline.
Doing this to a democratic party — Germany’s sixth largest, actually — two days before an election is nothing short of a democratic sabotage. This shows why we must introduce understanding of information policy into the justice system all across Europe. A computer is not just something you can carry away; doing so has consequences. It is not a wrench, and yet the law (and police) treat it like any tool, just like a wrench.
Piratenpartei has a statement out. TorrentFreak writes more. The raid also struck at one of the world’s largest EtherPad deployments, causing concern among many activists who have used the tool to coordinate civil liberty activities. Netzpolitik writes more in German.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the German police website, polizei.de, is now offline. (When the Pirate Bay was raided on May 31, 2006, the Swedish police went offline almost immediately. Tabloids held polls which site people believed would come back up first. 90% thought that The Pirate Bay would restore service first.)