Feds subpoena private online news website for user information
Concerns raised over privacy rights and online journalism
by Pinedale Online!
November 11, 2009
For a chilling account raising concerns of apparent abuse of federal authority, a story has surfaced about the U.S. Department of Justice in Indiana issuing a grand jury subpoena to a Philadelphia-based independent news website demanding they divulge their private business records showing customer and subscriber personal financial information and website use records.
The U.S. Attorney in Indianapolis, Indiana, Tim Morrison, issued the subpoena on January 23, 2009 to IndyMedia, a website which describes itself as a "grassroots network committed to using media production and distribution as tools for promoting social and economic justice. It is dedicated to addressing issues that profit-driven media often neglect and hopes to empower people to "become the media" by providing democratic access to available technologies and information."
The subpoena commanded the production of documents and information about visitation including all IP traffic to and from the indymedia.us website for activity that occurred specifically on June 25, 2008. The grand jury subpoena demanded customer and subscriber information for local and long distance telephone connection records, session times and durations, length of service, type of service, subscriber identity numbers, social security number, drivers license number, date of birth, student identification, nicknames, e-mail addresses, means of payment including credit card and bank account numbers. The subpoena was issued on January 23, 2009 commanding the company’s appearance to testify before the Grand Jury in Indianapolis, Indiana on February 24, 2009. The subpoena included a gag order statement forbidding the company from disclosing the existence of the subpoena.
The company responded to the DOJ they did not have the records the government requested, and challenged the government’s legal authority related to specific items commanded in the subpoena.
Click on this link for the entire story by Declan McCullagh on CBSNews.com (11/10/09):Justice Dept. Asked For News Site's Visitor Lists