New Zealand police have sent notice to the owner of the Kiwi Farms internet message board demanding the preservation of IP addresses and email addresses associated with posts related to the Christchurch shootings, believed to have been committed by 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant.
Tarrant used Facebook Live to broadcast the first of two Friday attacks on local mosques that left 50 dead and 50 injured, which was rapidly disseminated across various file hosing platforms and websites, including Kiwi Farms - which received the preservation request on Saturday.
"At around the time of the shooting there were a number of posts and links posted on kiwifarms.net relating to the shooting and TARRANT," reads the letter from Senior Sergeant New Zealand Police detective John Michael. "We would like to preserve any posts and technical data including IP addresses, email addresses etc linked to these posts pending a formal legal request."
"Could you please advise what legal process you require for this request and also confirm preservation of the data requested pending legal process," the letter concludes.
The email was verified by journalist Nick Monroe.
I HAVE A COPY OF THE EMAIL— Nick Monroe (@nickmon1112) March 17, 2019
I CAN CONFIRM THIS IS REAL
Kiwi Farms Administrator has provided me a forwarded copy of the DEMAND FOR USER INFORMATION from @nzpolice
INFORMATION ABOUT USERS
WHO TALKED ABOUT IT pic.twitter.com/1h84L3W1vk
Responding to the preservation request, Kiwi Farms owner Joshua Moon - a US citizen living abroad, asked "Is this a joke? I'm not turning over information abouit my users. The person responsible for posting the video and manifesto PDF is myself."
Tell your superiors they're going to make the entire country and its government look like clowns by trying to censor the Internet. You're a small, irrelevant island nation barely more recognizable than any other nameless pacific sovereignty. You do not have the clout to eradicate a video from the Internet and you do not have the legal reach to imprison everyone whose posted it. If anyone turns over to you the information they're asking for they're not only cowards, but they're fucking idiots.
If you're wondering, no. Kiwi Farms has nothing to do with New Zealand. Our name is a pointed jab at some of the mushmouthed autistic people we make fun of. Absolutely nothing about our community is NZ oriented.
Prior to the attack, a message was posted 8chan /pol/ message board linking people to a 74-page manifesto and Tarrant's Facebook Live stream. 8chan has agreed to cooperate in the investigation, while Zealand authorities have warned residents that the mere possession of the video could result in prison time.
After the shooting, a person believed to be Moon said in a Saturday 4chan post that he was the operator of an "autistic shitposting forum," and had recorded and uploaded footage of the shooting. After several takedown requests and a flood of users downloading the video leaving "not enough bandwidth to go around," the users says they created peer-to-peer trackers for people to access the footage.
Since receiving the letter, Moon has posted this warning to users at the top of Kiwi Farms:
If you are from New Zealand, your government is hunting you. Read this letter from NZ Police, then change your email address if you're using a personal account. Start using a VPN everywhere. I'm setting data retention to zero for the immediate future. Warrant canary is in the footer.
Good alter-ego email services not associated with me: Cockli, ProtonMail
Logless VPNs: PrivateInternetAccess, NordVPN, ProtonVPN
Given that there were three other people arrested in addition to Tarrant (although police now say they don't think any of them are thought to have been involved in the shootings), perhaps authorities suspect there were online accomplices who distributed information to message boards in order to maximize its exposure.
On the other hand, New Zealanders who had nothing to do with the attack and did not conceal their IP address via technical means (and/or used an identifying email address) could soon find themselves prosecuted for doing nothing more than accessing or exchanging information.
Read the entire exchange here.