[en] call for a meeting to defend our autonomous servers
What follows is an invitation to participate in a discussion on the defense of autonomous servers and alternative communication structures. It is planned as part of a « digital struggles » focus, during the European People's Global Action (PGA)  conference, that is to happen around France from August 19th to September 3rd. More information on PGA and the conference itself can be found at the end of this message, and by following its links.
This invitation is sent to the following servers' administrators: squat.net, inventati.org, ecn.org, sindominio.net, nadir.org, so36.net, domainepublic.net, collectifs.net, nodo50.org, boum.org, poivron.org, moviments.net, no-log.org, samizdat.net, tuxic.nl, riseup.net, resist.ca. The realisation of this discussion space and its extent highly depend on feedback this call generates. Please tell if/how you're (not) interested, wanna contribute something, can or cannot participate, etc.
In short, this moment intends to bring us admins together to discuss the current situation, share experiences, envision strategies, and possibly organise. It also aims at facilitating an encounter in between those who provide these online services and their users, namely the activist community, in order to confront incoming repressions altogether. This would happen in between the 19th & the 28th of August 2006, at the autonomous space « Les Tanneries », in Dijon, France. A more in depth explanation follows.
Over the last few years, the Internet has become a main tool for radical activism. Decentralized action organizing, broader networking & communication, Indymedia, web-radios & various counter-information initiatives, content dissemination & movement visibility, collaborative writing & knowledge sharing, among others... have been facilitated, extended, or sometimes even allowed by activist appropriation of computing, with a number of initiatives now being dependent upon the Internet as a result.
As radical techies, anar(cho)geeks, hacklab members, keyboard squatters, tech-aware activists, autonomous administrators... we've often directly participated in that evolution, advocating subversive uses of new technologies, hacking free software & sharing knowledge with passion, running servers for revolution. We've seen (most of) our friends leave hotmail behind, https eventually becoming trendy, and more and more people & groups, projects & campaigns, hosted on our machines, rather than feeding some company.
Internet has long been a relatively safe place to be, exempt from harsh government policy. But times have changed, and are changing even more rapidly: with information society comes data retention, which translates to compulsory user tracability and administrator responsability. All over Europe, countries are adjusting their legal frameworks to enforce police access to logs, and sweep away Internet privacy. Server seizures & intrusions by officials, be they legal or not, have increased lately, and, among others, have targetted Indymedia & Inventati.
As users, we face the risk of our digital intimacy being revealed to authorities; but as administrators, we face direct repression if we refuse to comply, to log, to denounce - to become police assistants as we're expected to - now, sooner or later. Because our tech activism involves spreading voices so that they can't be shut by authorities, because providing alternative communication structures for our movements implies helping ourselves, as activists, to stay safe in the cyberworld, we can only refuse the emergence of such securitarian policy, nor can we ignore the risks we face acting accordingly.
There has yet been little mobilisation against those measures, and though all could directly be affected, most activists aren't aware of the situation, hence not ready to react if something bad happens. While independent servers have become crucial & sensitive hubs of our communication, there seems to be very little awareness of their importance, of the need for their defense & preservation. While we will easily mobilize to defend a common ressource such as a social centre threatened with eviction, how many will we be to fight a legal agression against our digital structures of communication?
Isn't it time to address this underlying problem? How can we stress the importance of our structures of communication, raise awareness about their potential vulnerability, and, most importantly, build solidarity? The « digital struggles » focus within the PGA could be one such space for addressing these issues; it could allow us all - admins and users - to meet, share and build perspectives around our digital services & communities.
Furthermore, this could be a space for inter-server coordination, collective thought and experience-sharing around our technical developments & practices. Traditionnally, admin work is carried by a single techie, and it's hard to participate for anyone who's not an expert already; do we manage to organise differently? Lately, some collectives have implemented and tried out methods for administrating computer ressources collectively; how can we merge political concerns in our way of doing things and the practical need of keeping a machine running? Etc.
So much for proposals. As of now, a few individuals from squat.net, poivron.org, no-log.org, boum.org, indymedia.org have announced their participation, and a presentation workshop on metche  is expected (metche is a program designed to ease team work on a server, developped by the boum.org collective). The rest depends on further contributions & answers to this invitation. Please send reactions to email@example.com !
PGA is an international anti-authoritarian & anti-capitalist network, whose principles are defined within the "PGA Hallmarks" . Every two years, the European PGA conference allows a number of activists from various collectives across Europe to meet, have fun, share experiences & strategies, build affinities, organise campaigns & prepare actions. This year, the conference is facilitated by the STAMP collective, a coalition of diverse activist types from all around France.
For the first time, the conference will take place in a decentralized fashion: the first part will be distributed over 5 sites (Lyon, Toulouse, Limousin, Frayssinous, Dijon), each simultaneously hosting discussions on specific subjects, from August 19th to August 28th; the second part will bring participants altogether in Dijon, from August 30th to September 3rd, after two days off for travelling & chilling-out.
The « digital struggles » focus  will take place in Dijon, during the first - decentralized - conference moment. It will be hosted by « Les Tanneries » , an anarchist social centre, squatted since 1998, home of the PRINT hacklab , among miscellaneous other projects. Other main local topics will include « defense & preservation of autonomous spaces »  « when streets are burning: accounts & perspectives on unrest in France, spring 2006; challenging the ghettoisation of radical struggles » .