The FBI is trying to get a list of IP addresses, phone numbers, and other information about people reading a een USA today article on the death of two of his agents (through Politics). the subpoena (PDF) says it relates to a criminal investigation and seeks the information from readers who opened the article within a specific 35-minute timeframe, but it’s unclear who or what the Bureau is trying to track down. USA today fights back against handing over the information, calling the request unconstitutional.
“We were surprised to receive this subpoena, especially in light of President Biden’s recent statements in support of press freedom. The subpoena also violates the Department of Justice’s own guidelines regarding the limited circumstances in which subpoenas can be issued to the news media.” USA today publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth said in a statement emailed to: The edge.
The article in question was one published on Feb. 2, 2021, about a gunfight that took place when FBI agents tried to execute a search warrant in a child pornography case that killed two FBI agents and the suspect. The subpoena, filled by an FBI special agent, asks for a large amount of information about the devices that accessed the article from 7:03 p.m. ET to 7:38 p.m. ET the night it was published.
It is not clear why the request was made, as the suspect described in the article was dead by the time the article was published. Whatever the FBI is looking for, USA today says in his court file (PDF) that the request violates the First Amendment, citing multiple rulings from past cases in which the government was denied access to comparable data. It also argues that the FBI’s access to general data about who has read a story could have a cooling effect on its journalistic efforts — as a Supreme Court judge cited in the motion in 1953, the government ordered to This kind of information can make people feel like someone is reading over their shoulder.
Perez Wadsworth said in the statement that: USA today‘s attorneys attempted to contact the FBI before going ahead to challenge the subpoena in court. “Despite these efforts, we have never received a substantive response or meaningful explanation of the alleged basis for the subpoena,” she said. Being forced to tell the government who reads what on our websites is a clear violation of the First Amendment.”
She added that USA Today has asked the court to quash the subpoena “to protect the important relationship and trust between USA TODAY readers and our journalists.”