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Germany seizes server hosting leaked US police files

Germany seizes server hosting leaked US police files
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At the request of the U.S. government, German officials last week seized a computer server that hosted leaked files from scores of police agencies taken in a Houston data breach last month. 

The server was used by Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), a WikiLeaks-like data transparency group, to distribute information called “BlueLeaks” from more than 200 federal, state and local police agencies, The Associated Press reported Thursday. 

The prosecutor’s office in Zwickau, Germany, told the AP in a statement that the server was taken on July 3 in Falkenstein after a request from U.S. officials. The prosecutors’ statement said German judicial authorities would decide whether to give the server to the U.S. and that it wouldn’t reveal the reason for the Americans' request. 

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The FBI declined to comment.

DDoSecrets founder Emma Best told the AP that they assume the confiscation was related to the posting of the BlueLeaks documents. DDoSecrets obtained the documents, dating back to 1996, from an individual who sympathized with the protests over police killings of Black unarmed individuals, including George Floyd in May, Best said.

Some of the documents that were released last month suggest that the FBI is collecting intelligence on protesters from social media and sending it to local law enforcement. The data was taken from the Houston web-design company Netsential, which hosts portals for police agencies and fusion centers.

The data did not include references to sexual assault cases or children but did not remove the names, phone numbers and emails of officers, Best said. 

Hacking and taking data is a federal crime, but several U.S. courts have ruled that journalists can publish stolen documents if they weren’t involved in the theft. DDoSecrets identifies as a journalistic organization.

Twitter permanently suspended the DDoSecrets account when it posted the data, pointing to a ban on posting hacked information.