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Austrian ISPs protest raid

Viennese police raid an ISP in search of evidence of child pornography distribution and infuriate the country's access providers.

Austrian ISPs will shut their virtual doors tomorrow for two hours to protest a police raid on one of their own.

Viennese police on Thursday raided Austrian ISP ViP and confiscated all its computer equipment in search of evidence that a year before, someone distributed child pornography using one of ViP's systems, according to reports in several Austrian newspapers.

No arrests were made during the raid, but the police effectively shut down ViP as they took anything that had a hard disk, including computers used to run the business, according to Stephan Somogyi, principal of international media consultancy Gyroscope.

The action, said Somogyi, was especially noteworthy because the warrant originated in the Bavarian prosecutor's office, the same office that stirred world-wide attention when it pushed CompuServe to block access to certain newsgroups for its customers in Germany.

He added that if any crime had been committed, it was highly unlikely that a record of it would remain a full year later.