Their recent run-in with the men in black – the result of a spate of email bomb threats to the University of Pittsburgh -- offers a rare glimpse into the collision between free speech rights and the benefits of anonymity on one side with the needs of law enforcement to act quickly in the face of real threats on the other.
Their tale ends with an odd twist: FBI agents, caught on video, returning the server only four days after it was seized from a co-location facility in New York City. At the moment, no one knows why the FBI would take that unusual step. FBI Special Agent Bill Crowley said the agency wouldn’t comment on either the seizure or the return of the server.
Federal investigators and local officials in Pittsburgh were scrambling last month as bomb threats targeting the University of Pittsburgh piled up. Within days, 46 such threats were logged, causing massive disruption as students and teachers were continually evacuated from building after building. Parents and school officials pressured law enforcement to solve the case. For some reason, the FBI thought a server in a small facility in New York City might contain a crucial clue.
McClelland and Lopez run a progressive Internet organization called MayFirst/PeopleLink, which helps democracy-seeking groups around the world use the Web to organize. Together with sister organization RiseUp, MayFirst/PeopleLink offers email services, mailing list support and other Web tools. But their services make a promise that’s critical to people fighting oppressive regimes: All data is encrypted, guaranteeing total anonymity to those who need it.
McClelland was on a conference call in MayFirst/PeopleLink’s Brooklyn office -- which is in the same building where Lopez and his wife live -- on April 11 when he saw two men in suits standing at the door.
"I thought they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I joked with people on the call that it was the FBI," he said. Moments later, it was no joke.
The agents flashed their badges and asked if they could come in; McClelland refused. They asked if they could step into the vestibule. He refused again.
Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan 2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North.
The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night.
A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked.
The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons 2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough.
Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield.
Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims 2016-04-27 2:23 St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants
Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July.
The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ 2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop 2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.