Less than a week after that FBI raid at a 2323 Bryan Street data center that left dozens of innocent companies and Internet service providers in the dark, Wired's Threat Level offers the most complete picture of what went down. From information gleaned from court docs (including the 39-page affidavit, which began circulating this week) and interviews with all involved, the raid last week and another on March 12 were prompted by complaints from AT&T and Verizon that they're owed money from VoIP (or, Voice over Internet Protocol) customers who used the telcoms for connectivity purposes. Only, it turned into much, much more. And it's bound to get much, much bigger judging by Wired's lengthy narrative.
Federal agents grabbed servers and data belonging to pretty much anyone and everyone hooked up downtown; they even went to the Southlake home of Mike Faulkner, whose downtown data center was raided on March 12, and seized "eight iPods, some belonging to his three children, five XBoxes, a PlayStation3 system and a Wii gaming console, among other equipment," notes Wired, in addition to a few thousand dollars kept in bank accounts. At this very moment, legit businesses' servers are sitting in FBI offices, waiting for agents to sift through their contents, even as some wonder whether this shouldn't have been a civil matter concerning unpaid business debt.
Folks are claiming the feds have been unresponsive; Faulkner's been fingered by an unnamed informant (who he says is a former employee he had to fire) as a meth-using spammer; the Electronic Frontier Foundation's said to be getting involved "to investigate the FBI's possible violation of due process"; and Dallas FBI spokesman Mark White justifies the massive seizure by telling Wired, "My understanding is that the way these things are hooked up is that they're interconnected to each other."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.