"Collateral damage"

The primary site of the German Pirate Party has been taken down, a mere two days before a state election. But not because of any wrongdoing on their part. Rather it seems that the servers, in full, were taken because somebody else was using them for alledgedly illegal purposes as well.

This sort of thing seems to become more and more common nowadays. The police can't disentangle digital wrong-doing from the right kind. So they wholesale confiscate everything in sight, with massive collateral damage. In this case endangering a political party's success in an open and democratic election.

This is far out of the norm, of course. Usually what is endangered in a wide search such as this has nothing to do with political parties. It has to do with individual, familial and small corporate interests. As such most of the searches go unnoticed and unpublished.

But these silent violations of the right to property, privacy and entrepreneurship entail the worst chilling factor ever imagined: while wholesale confiscation and long delays in the processing of digital assets are in themselves punitive and arbitrary, this sort of collateral confiscation means that you can't even deal with other people who might, potentially, be serving something other than kids cartoons.

In theory this is a procedural misstep which could be averted by copying all data in situ and leaving the servers to run. In practice, due to the unprofessionalism and/or vindictive nature of law enforcement, this amounts to a true chilling effect.

From encounters within my own social circuit in Finland, I can also guarantee that this isn't an isolated incident. This happens everywhere, and the costs of the intervention aren't being minimized. Thus, I have to call this a travesty.

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