Subpoena Threatens liberty & Privacy of Comment Posters

I have added extra emphasis to a critical clause in the last sentence of the following quotation. Please concentrate on that and the other parts I have emphasized.


http://www.newmediajournal.us/the_fifth_column.htm#0616a

Newspaper Resists Subpoena for Names of Readers Who Posted Views
Joan Whitely, The Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Las Vegas Review-Journal readers who posted online their views about a federal criminal tax trial are the target of a sweeping federal grand jury subpoena asking for information so that authorities may identify who they are and where they live. The Review-Journal plans to file later this week a motion to quash the subpoena, and the American Civil Liberties Union has posted its own online solicitation asking those who posted whether they would like the ACLU to legally represent them…This past week the grand jury subpoena, which is separate from the ongoing trial but was signed by one of the prosecutors involved in the tax trial, was the topic of discussion between the trial judge and attorneys, revealing for the first time a possible motive for the subpoena. The newspaper’s subpoena does not explain why the US attorney’s office wants to know who commented on the case, but prosecutors told federal Judge David Ezra that they issued it out of concern for jurors’ safety, because some comments hinted at acts of violence. Las Vegas business owner Robert Kahre and others face federal tax fraud charges for paying contractors with gold and silver US coins based on the precious metal value of the coins but using the much lower face value of the coins for tax purposes. As of 9pm Monday, 173 comments were listed below the May 26 Review-Journal article about the trial. Many comments deal with the trial and its principal players. Others were posted after the subpoena arrived…Mitchell said the paper is resisting the sweeping nature of the subpoena, noting that anonymous speech is “a fundamental and historic part of this country,” citing the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers that argued for passage and against passage of the nation’s Constitution as an example. All were written under pseudonyms. He said the paper would consider cooperating if specific crimes or real threats were presented…Many used the newspaper Web site to say the US government has turned socialist, the nation’s monetary system encourages deficit spending and guarantees inflation, or the Internal Revenue Service has to be reformed or abolished. In addition to requesting the names of people who posted, the subpoena also tells the newspaper to supply the writers’ gender, birth date, physical address, telephone number, Internet service provider, IP address, credit card numbers and more.

Assuming that one or more comentators made expressed or implied threats, does that justify casting a broad net for all commentators on the subject? What is the relevance of credit card numbers, and why would the newspaper have them? Perhaps those who posted comments are subscribers and paid by credit card, but I can tell you without reservation that I will not supply that number to sign up to post comments.

In my opinion, seeking identifying information for anyone who did not make threats of violence is overstepping the bounds of justice and casts a negative reflection on the prosecutor involved. Persecutor may be a better title for that officer of the court. This case is an early wake up call alerting us to be watchful lest our liberties be lost.

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Subpoena Threatens liberty & Privacy of Comment Posters

I have added extra emphasis to a critical clause in the last sentence of the following quotation. Please concentrate on that and the other parts I have emphasized.


http://www.newmediajournal.us/the_fifth_column.htm#0616a

Newspaper Resists Subpoena for Names of Readers Who Posted Views
Joan Whitely, The Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Las Vegas Review-Journal readers who posted online their views about a federal criminal tax trial are the target of a sweeping federal grand jury subpoena asking for information so that authorities may identify who they are and where they live. The Review-Journal plans to file later this week a motion to quash the subpoena, and the American Civil Liberties Union has posted its own online solicitation asking those who posted whether they would like the ACLU to legally represent them…This past week the grand jury subpoena, which is separate from the ongoing trial but was signed by one of the prosecutors involved in the tax trial, was the topic of discussion between the trial judge and attorneys, revealing for the first time a possible motive for the subpoena. The newspaper’s subpoena does not explain why the US attorney’s office wants to know who commented on the case, but prosecutors told federal Judge David Ezra that they issued it out of concern for jurors’ safety, because some comments hinted at acts of violence. Las Vegas business owner Robert Kahre and others face federal tax fraud charges for paying contractors with gold and silver US coins based on the precious metal value of the coins but using the much lower face value of the coins for tax purposes. As of 9pm Monday, 173 comments were listed below the May 26 Review-Journal article about the trial. Many comments deal with the trial and its principal players. Others were posted after the subpoena arrived…Mitchell said the paper is resisting the sweeping nature of the subpoena, noting that anonymous speech is “a fundamental and historic part of this country,” citing the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers that argued for passage and against passage of the nation’s Constitution as an example. All were written under pseudonyms. He said the paper would consider cooperating if specific crimes or real threats were presented…Many used the newspaper Web site to say the US government has turned socialist, the nation’s monetary system encourages deficit spending and guarantees inflation, or the Internal Revenue Service has to be reformed or abolished. In addition to requesting the names of people who posted, the subpoena also tells the newspaper to supply the writers’ gender, birth date, physical address, telephone number, Internet service provider, IP address, credit card numbers and more.

Assuming that one or more comentators made expressed or implied threats, does that justify casting a broad net for all commentators on the subject? What is the relevance of credit card numbers, and why would the newspaper have them? Perhaps those who posted comments are subscribers and paid by credit card, but I can tell you without reservation that I will not supply that number to sign up to post comments.

In my opinion, seeking identifying information for anyone who did not make threats of violence is overstepping the bounds of justice and casts a negative reflection on the prosecutor involved. Persecutor may be a better title for that officer of the court. This case is an early wake up call alerting us to be watchful lest our liberties be lost.

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