Gateway 303: Police Disinformation on UK Indymedia

In the wake of the outing of 4 undercover police infiltrators into the UK activist scene, SchNews, have broken a story about police posts to Indymedia. For over two years suspected police articles and comments have been tracked by filters that are triggered by matching IP addresses, the first comment tracked in this manner dates from August 2008 and the last from January 2011. It is hoped that the full lists of articles and comments will soon be published. A feature article about the abuse has now been published by Birmingham Indymedia, this feature article, first started in in December 2009, has been the subject of a huge amount of internal discussion within UK Indymedia and has been one of the reasons behind the decision to fork the project. Sheffield Indymedia supports the use of anti-abuse features to track and remove disinformation from the site and long argued for the feature article exposing the state abuse to be published.

Articles: Advocating Domestic Extremism - Cops on Indymedia - An Expos\xE9 | INTER-NETCU: Government Agency Caught Infiltrating Activist Media Outlet | State infiltration and attempted disruption of activist websites

Old stuff

Adam's redraft of SchNews feat:

"No - stuff that - SHUT the place: Let's not all stand around like lemmings - lets shut the place! Bring ladders and wire cutters. If there are enough of us we can shut it!" ... a pretty average comment on Indymedia you might think, if a little gung-ho. In fact it was posted there by the police, and SchNEWS has the proof.

For the benefit of anyone who's been hiding in a hole, it turns out that the U.K direct action/anarchist/environmental movement was infiltrated for number of years by undercover police. At least four cops have already been outed and it seems safe to assume there are more out there lurking. But while the mainstream media has focussed on the love lives, and the camper vans of these few professional liars, SchNEWS can reveal that police attempts to disrupt the movement are just as insidious in the media and communications arena -- For years, police have been using activist website Indymedia in attempts to sow mistrust, demoralise movements and to incite violence and illegality.

A little bit of background: Technically, Indymedia safeguards the anonymity of anyone who posts an article or a comment to its website, by not recording what is called the I.P. address from where that post originates. I.P. addresses are unique labels that enable computers to locate and talk to each other -- they can be used therefore to track the identity of anyone who posts to a website. But, although I.P. addresses are not stored, about two years ago the people who look after Indymedia happened upon a comment on an Animals Rights site which outed an abusive poster as being a police troll. It gave them and anyone else interested the I.P. address of this particular joker. Since then, Indymedia has been operating a filter that captures posts originating from this address and flags them up for moderation.

The IP address so identified was , which correlates with the server There are similar servers, gateway-301 & gateway-302 with IP addresses and respectively. Other servers identified are gateway-101, gateway-202, gateway-201, etc.

GSI stands for Government Secure Intranet. It is a network established by the UK Government to allow secure transfer of files across its computers. The Police National Network is separate from it, but can connect to it. Currently GSI is operated by Energis, a UK based internet company now owned by Cable & Wireless.

It is clear from the consistency of the usage of gateway-303 server that the IPs are probably assigned to particular premises or else specific units within the UK Government. One of the purposes of the GSI network is to provide a secure proxy network behind which users can maintain their anonymity. Hence the lack of solid information as to exactly who is behind the postings. However, SchNEWS is gonna take a stab in the dark (if only) as to who they are; in fact some actually signed NETCU. Of course it could be the old double bluff, but given the level of intelligence behind some of the postings even this level of sophistication seems unlikely.

Indymedia is a key tool in activist organisation and communication. Given the overtly political nature of the site and the types of news stories published it is hardly a surprise that it attracts weirdos with strange axes to grind. Its open publishing format has left it wide open to trolling, spam and, of course, state / police abuse.

This abuse has mostly taken the form of posting comments under a variety of pseudonyms. These postings have targeted individual activists, put out information about activists that is not in the public domain, attacked campaigns, and urged the disruption of peaceful protests. Many comment on (then) ongoing court cases. Some are just personal abuse directed at well-known activists, while others contain information only known to the police. Two postings - made on 21st Jan and 9th Jun 2010 - provide personal details, including mobile numbers, of potential targets for the animal rights movement, one a fur-shop in Leeds, the other the owner of an animal circus. What the motivations were for posting these details can only be surmised. But off the record we reckon it's blatant attempt at entrapment.

As part of the activist scene, SchNEWS isn't quite as shocked as elements of the mainstream media have been about the cops' sleazy abuse of personal friendships to disrupt the organisation of alternative social movements. It's long been the case that to be an activist you've got to get used the idea of surveillance (both covert and overt), violence from the state and the deliberate silencing of voices. The antics of Kennedy, Watson, Jacobs and Boyling are just part of a tactical bag of tricks including kettling (link), the use of F.I.T teams and spotter cards (link), anti-stalking injunctions (link), spreading rumours in the mainstream press (link) and a constant stream of new laws criminalising dissent (See SchNEWS 1-754). To that list we can now add infiltration of the core platform for anti-authoritarian radical media activism in the UK.

From a brief analysis of the activities of the undercovers it seems that their mission was as much to disrupt as much as it was to gather information. Attacks on our movements by disruption are a handy weapon in the state's arsenal with no need for actual evidence or convictions.

The targets of the fake Indymedia postings span the activist spectrum, from anti-fascists to anti-militarists, but have been most concerned with environmental campaigns and, in particular the Animal Rights movement. On April 27th, 2010, a comment appeared on the Indymedia UK newswire entitled Don't use SPEAK as a model. The comment, on an article entitled New animal lab at Leicester; New nationwide campaign to start urged readers to respond to the campaign by "Model[ling] the campaign on a successful AR campaign such as Hillgrove cats or Darnley Oaks etc" (sic). Those familiar with those campaigns will be aware that they campaigns are alleged to have included violent actions against individuals. Other postings referenced a what appears to be an entirely fictitious new AR campaign in Leicester \x96 Stop Leicester Animal Cruelty. SLAC (ha bloody ha)

It should be remembered corporations seeking injunctions under the Protection from Harassment Act (link) have relied heavily on comments made on Indymedia as evidence. This act has been used against campaigns such as Smash EDO to criminalise all forms of dissent targeting specific companies, even entirely peaceful and completely legal protest.

As a whole the comments build a bewildering picture of a campaign of disparagement, incitement and support, together with wry asides and outright attempts at demoralisation. A few really stand out as obvious incitement to illegality while some are so bizarre that we can't work out if they are part of a sinister master plan to bring down the whole activist scene - or just the ramblings of bored coppers with faces full of doughnuts and nothing better to do.

SchNEWS hopes to be in a position to publish the full backlog of comments (SchLeaks) soon. Meanwhile here's a small sample...

INCITEMENT: Obviously fed up with the lack of militant law-breaking in the U.K the Gateway users try and whip up a storm of their own

On the Milli-band protests - organised by Greenpeace against the Kingsnorth Power Station in July 4th 2009:

4th July - Shut Kingsnorth: With the police not opposing the Milliband what better time to shut Kingsnorth? Lets use this opportunity to shut it down once and for all! posted by Milli-Band on 26.06.2009 07:29 No - stuff that - SHUT the place: Let's not all stand around like lemmings - lets shut the place!Bring ladders and wire cutters. If there are enough of us we can shut it! posted by Millitant Band on 26.06.2009 08:48

Animal Rights Targets: NETCU came out of AR monitoring group ARNI (Animal Rights National Index) here the gateway boys try and get AR back on the streets and even have a positive take on arson! These three comments were posted on demo reports

Yeah - back to Sequani Let's get out this time - only 2 turned up at Highgate! We need loads at Sequani or they will think we have given up! posted by Anon on 29.10.2010

Try HLS or Oxford: think they are still open! Why waste effort 'inspecting' places that you know have closed - unless it is to make yourself sound important - it's not working. posted by What's the point of these? on 26.02.2010 08:07Yeah - Harrods and Josephes too..: Both of those still selling fur - both will be demo ed over Xmas. It's not over yet! posted by CAFT on 21.12.2009 14:05

On the burning down of Novartis CEO's Hunting Lodge and theft of his mother's ashes

Horrible own goal:Yes there will be a witch hunt - lest we forget the SNGP are mostly all still in jail and that incident lead to Opertion Achillies and the 50 year jail terms. Had they stopped at the arson they would have made a good point but the repeated exhumation just makes the whole AR movent look like unreasonable fanatics. Stupid Stupid Stupid. posted by Green man 2009-08-05 11.00

Early Warning:

On two occasions users of Gateway 303 posted warnings/early reports of police raids on addresses. Why is a bit of mystery - maybe to see who contacts who in the afermath

Antifa solidarity: Reports have been recieved of raids across the country. Details are unclear at present. posted by Antifa on 29.07.2009 10:54

AR raids - duck and cover :Early reports of raids on two addresses - AR related. Early morning raids on AR activists - some arrests - possible house searches. More details of nicks to follow - we must show solidarity. posted by @tivist on 10.11.2009 08:20

DEMORALISATION: It has been speculated that one of the roles of the undercovers was to break groups up through demoralisation and cynicism. Ceratinly the 303 crew seem to be singing from the same sheet In relation to a protest at Didcot Power Station

13 arrested - production not halted: 13 arrested - production not halted, the rest up a stack waiting to come down and get nicked -what did this achive? posted by Hang on on 27.10.2009 08:28

In relation to graffiti at EDO MBM, a Brighton weapons factory That should stop production.....:Yep - no doubt paint on the walls stops production dead. Oh hang on...... posted by Paint on 05.02.2010 12:52 In relation to a protest outside an animal lab:

The numbers are down from last year: There is nothing wrong with 70 - I think the initial alarm on the day and on here is that numbers were so reduced from last year and what the Police had been expecting. posted by

It's Fine on 02.11.2009 11:24

Talking about fox-hunts on Boxing Day

So many More now: Than there were before the ban makes you think eh? posted by Pink on 23.12.2009 15:43

SOWING DIVISIONS. Another tactic is to cause divisions through the spreading of rumours against individuals even suggesting that they might be police informants

Referring to long term AR activist Lynn Sawyer

Another raid on Lyns house: And she hasn't been nicked? posted by Again? on 10.11.2009 11:45

Referring to AR activist Luke Steele

Just goes to show:Why is Luke Steele taken seriously I will never know. Steele attracts the law like a magnet and from what a "screw" said in the local pub he like to run and tell when he got slapped around. ...... Nothing new, he will always be a spoilt little mummy's boy. Be aware of Steele, he can't be trusted. posted by Sab on 24.12.2009 10:28

One comment aimed to discourage activism against the EDL - Undercover cop Mark Kennedy suggested that activists avoid confrontation with the EDL in a meeting at the EF! Gathering in 2010

They were formed to fight:Guys, the EDL are predominatly a group of football hooligans who were bored in the summer. This seems to be giving them exactly what they want - sombody to have a fight with! Why not ignore them? posted by Observer on 08.12.2009 13:29

Bizarre: These and many of the others seem like nothing more than bored trolling

Thanks for the heads up... :we will look into it. posted by NETCU

22.02.2010 08:17

Let's ask David Ike...: I'm sure that Dave can save us! posted by Purple

Track Suit on 23.12.2009 08:54

This is a just a small selection of the over 100 comments intercepted on Indymedia.
Topic revision: r3 - 22 Jan 2011, ChrisC
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