ANNOUNCEMENT: Legal defense fund

Emma Best has engaged lawyer Stanley Cohen to fight a case in Germany and the USA

TL;DR: See the GoFundMe page launching a legal defense fund for DDoSecrets.

On June 19th, a group of privacy and transparency activists, Distributed Denial of Secrets, published a 269GB set of police data in the public interest that became known as BlueLeaks . BlueLeaks was the largest and most important release of police data to date, uncovering such important things as the junk science police use in lie detection, the DHS's confused pursuit of proKurdish Americanshow tech giants proactively share user data with police and more

Despite publishing the information under the First Amendment protections accorded to a free press and individual free speech, the backlash was swift and unprecedented . First, Twitter permanently banned the DDoSecrets Twitter account and began falsely marking all links to the DDoS website as “malicious” and possibly containing viruses . People were banned from Twitter for simply posting screenshots to pages from documents contained in BlueLeaks . Many of these documents contained information that was vital to national conversations happening at the time, including documents that highlighted police brutality during the height of Black Lives Matter protests.

Slowly, through media reports, we also began to learn that there were federal investigations into BlueLeaks and DDoSecrets. 

Then, on July 3, 2020, upon request from the US government, DDoSecrets physical servers, which were located in Germany, were seized by German authorities under what is known as a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, ostensibly as a preventive measure to stop DDoSecrets from “destroying evidence ” that may have been located on the server. DDoSecrets was not notified of this seizure until four days later, on July 7. The Germans noted that they would not immediately give the information located on the servers to the Americans, but that the Americans would need to work their way through the German courts to obtain them.

Since then, the situation has become even more dire.

About two weeks after the server seizure, federal agents visited an activist who had discussed hosting a mirror of BlueLeaks and tried to persuade them to become an informant, offering them money for information  that would lead to the arrest of Emma Best.

We now have confirmed involvement of government agencies who are calling Distributed Denial of Secrets and those involved everything from “criminal hackers” to accusing them of having “previously conducted hack and leak activity against the Russian government”. All of these libelous accusations have been presented with no evidence whatsoever to back them up. In an age where freedom of the press is so under attack, this has chilling repercussions.

In August of 2020, Emma Best, along with lawyer Stanley Cohen and others launched an appeal to challenge the German prosecutors over the seized servers. If, through the demands made of German prosecutors, we learn that the US now has the server or has accessed its contents, we will shift to a US-based strategy.

All of the data on the seized servers was forward-facing. That is, it was all either public, or being indexed so it could eventually be made public. The server had no contact with the BlueLeaks source, and no entity at DDoSecrets had or has any intention of destroying any of the important work they have put into BlueLeaks, or any other DDoSecrets project. The members of DDoS are privacy and transparency activists—destroying data is the very antithesis of their work.

If, through our efforts in the German federal courts, we find that the data has already been handed over to the American government, we are then planning our next legal moves (which, for now, must remain private and confidential).

This is where you come in. 

Legal fees—to handle complex cases across two continents and in at least two country’s federal court systems—can be costly. Right now, there is a dire need for defense funds, so Distributed Denial of Secrets, Emma Best and their family, and anyone else caught in the crossfire can defend themselves against these unfair and unjust attacks.

This is a First Amendment issue, and we plan to use every avenue available to fight this, and to defend ourselves against whatever else the federal government may try.

For more information, and future updates, consult the official GoFundMe page for the legal defense fund of DDoSecrets.

For other ways to contribute to our publishing work: we also now accept subscribers via Open Collective, or funds sent via PayPal.