The ongoing drama from an FBI raid that seized three racks of servers at a data center in Virginia continues to grow. Damage in the New York startup scene was thought to be limited to Curbed, until Marco Arment dropped this blog bombshell.
What the FBI stole from Instapaper
“I didn’t own the hardware — I was leasing it from DigitalOne. So the FBI has only stolen my time and a partial month of hosting fees, not any physical property of mine. (The hardware was pretty expensive to DigitalOne, though: each of these servers probably costs $5,000–8,000.)
Possibly most importantly, though, the FBI is now presumably in possession of a complete copy of the Instapaper database as it stood on Tuesday morning, including the complete list of users and any non-deleted bookmarks. (“Archived” bookmarks are not deleted. “Deleted” bookmarks are hard-deleted out of the database immediately.)
The post immediately rocketed to the top of Hacker News, where it has accumulated over 130 comments. Many are technical in nature, discussing how easy it would be for the FBI to get access to the encrypted passwords and accounts stored on the server. Others make the jump straight to worrying about the surveillance state. “They have a list of hundreds (thousands?) of pages I thought were interesting enough to read later,” wrote user midnightmonster. “Seems like a fine base from which to build or enhance profiles of thousands of citizens.”
You think its a coincidence the FBI arrested Whitey Bulger this morning, after 16 years of looking? The mob legend’s Instapaper account was probably chock full of stories about indoor gardening in Santa Monica he didn’t have time to read on the lam.