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"Police threatens websitehost without court order."

Thursdayevening, september 27th, the Utrecht police called the hoster facilitating the Bikefest 2012 website. In this call the hoster was put under pressure to take the site offline. The officer mentioned he had a court order to take the site down as it was calling out to disturb the peace. No such order was ever shown.

Bikefest is an event focused on durability, bicycles and 'Do It Yourself' bikerepair and maintenance. The fourth edition of this event was planned to be held in Utrecht for the first time. Previous editions in Scheveningen and Amsterdam have never led to any troubles, nor did they disturb the peace.

On friday the municipality of Utrecht sent a letter to the location where Bikefest was to be held. Herein it orders the eviction of the building, based on firesafety regulations. It seems unlikely this is the true reason, as the building is a stable construction of steel and concrete, has many escape routes and has several extinguishers placed throughout the building. This does not constitute a severe threat that would require immediate eviction. In reality, it seems much more plausible the eviction is used as a means to prohibit Bikefest 2012 from happening.

It is remarkable that the announced eviction and the threats to the hoster, PUSCII in Utrecht, happened at the same time. According to the hoster the police is making an extra move towards an extreme form of internetcensorship. The direct reason can probably be found with the events in the small town of Haren earlier this month. In reply several police-organisations expressed a desire to be able to take down websites or other online information without court order. Dutch politicians however made immediately clear they would refuse to cooperate in such actions.

Nevertheless, the police tried taking down the Bikefest 2012 website anyway, by applying pressure to PUSCII. The hoster however never received a formal ordinance. It seems that the police is bluffing to take information offline. This happened earlier this year as well when the site had to take down a pamphlet and when Indymedia was ordered to take down a picture of a police-officer. In both cases there was a considerable amount of bluffing before any court orders were shown.

These methods are increasingly being applied by the dutch police and government and they are often successful as many hosters do not have the time or experience to counteract police bullying. This is the main reason why PUSCII always publishes about these incidents whenever a similar situation occurs.

PUSCII is a small collective that started as a free internetworkplace and hackerspace with the goal to make internet available to everyone, independant of their budget or income. These days PUSCII no longer has a physical space, but instead does hosting to provide a space on the internet for likeminded people. PUSCII strives for an open internet that is accessible for everyone without limitations in their free speech or without being snooped upon by a diversity of organisations, governments or individuals.

Bikefest 2012 website: