Wednesday, 9 July 2008

"German Police" Shut Down The Ohm Project

The Ohm Project ( was knocked off the Net yesterday. The site has been hosted on a German server run by E-Tunnels, a VPN provider and sponsor of The Ohm Project.

Both The Ohm Project and E-Tunnels went dark on Wednesday about midday Central European time. No notice was provided to either party as to the cause. When an inquiry was made to the service provider, he said that "the German police" had made three complaints beginning about a month ago about unspecified "abuse" originating from one of the IP addresses assigned to E-Tunnels.

The service provider,, claimed that he had been prohibited by the authorities from relaying the complaints to E-Tunnels even though they were the only party able to respond to the situation or correct it.

He has also refused to give either E-Tunnels or The Ohm Project any access to the site so that they can retrieve backups, logs or any other data, saying that:
I can´t tell you anything and/or give you any data from vps [virtual private server] in that case, without getting in trouble, because the requests are official ones.
E-Tunnels staff found the sudden shutoff especially puzzling because had offered to sell them additional IP addresses on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the shutdown.

The Ohm Project is a site providing information about threats to Internet privacy and freedom along with advice and tips about how to fight back against these encroachments. Last week, about 10,000 unique visitors came to the site, mainly through two diaries on the "Recommended" list at,, and numerous other sites.

If the service provider is telling the truth, the methods of the German police are nearly identical to those employed by the American FBI's "national security letter" program. National security letters are issued without warrants to banks, ISPs, libraries, credit card companies and telecoms. They demand personal information about customers and patrons, and prohibit the recipient from telling the "target" of the letter that the information has been requested.

The ACLU says this about "national security letters:"

Through NSLs the FBI can compile vast dossiers about innocent people and obtain sensitive information such as the web sites a person visits, a list of e-mail addresses with which a person has corresponded, or even unmask the identity of a person who has posted anonymous speech on a political website. The provision also allows the FBI to forbid or "gag" anyone who receives an NSL from telling anyone about the record demand. Since the Patriot Act was authorized in 2001, further relaxing restrictions on the FBI's use of the power, the number of NSLs issued has seen an astronomical increase. The Justice Department's Inspector General has reported that between 2003 and 2006, the FBI issued nearly 200,000 NSLs. The inspector General has also found serious FBI abuses of the NSL power.
In March, 2007, the Washington Post broke its policy against publishing anonymous letters to the editor to print a missive from the president of a "small Internet access and consulting business" who had received a NSL. This brave soul refused to turn over the information and retained an ACLU attorney to fight the FBI. Even though the FBI dropped the request, he was still under a gag order three years after receiving the letter.

Fundamental to the concept of due process of law is notice of the charges that serve as the basis for the government's punitive action. Without such notice, it is obviously impossible to defend one's self or to take needed corrective action. The FBI's National Security Letters and the tactics of the German police in our case grossly violate the due process guaranteed by both the U. S. and German Constitutions.

Back to smaller issues. We would like a chance to download our files off the site, and see no reason why that should interfere with any ongoing, mysterious investigation.

If you agree, we'd ask you to send a polite email to the following:

Maybe the provider will at least see his way clear to give us access to our files.

In the meantime, we'll be hanging out here until we can find other quarters, providing they don't kick us off of here too.

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