The FBI has asked USA Today for the IP addresses and phone numbers of anyone who read one of its articles over a 35-minute period in February as part of an ongoing investigation into child pornography in what the publisher calls a violation of the First Amendment. . .
On Feb. 2, FBI agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were killed and three others injured when 55-year-old David Huber began firing as they approached his apartment in Fort Lauderdale shortly after 6 a.m.
He was suspected of possessing child pornography, but the FBI has never revealed why. After killing the officers, he committed suicide.
Huber never had a criminal record and was married for 16 years.
USA Today was one of several news outlets that covered the story on Feb. 2. It published the story at 9:29 a.m. that morning — three and a half hours after it happened.
The FBI is asking for the information of anyone who read this story between 8:03 a.m. and 8:38 p.m. on Feb. 2 in what USA Today and its publisher Gannett call a violation of their and their readers’ First Amendment rights.
The subpoena asks for the IP addresses and phone numbers of the people reading the article to aid in a ‘federal investigation’
Now the FBI is asking them to hand over the phone numbers and IP addresses of anyone who clicked on the story during a 35-window that night, between 8:03 p.m. and 8:38 p.m.
The subpoena doesn’t specify why the FBI wants the information, or what it continues to investigate, given that the agents’ killer is dead. It just says it will help the investigation.
It was signed by J. Brooke Donahue, Special Supervisor, FBI, Violent Crimes Division, Operational Unit Child Exploitation.
USA Today is fighting back, saying the order violates the First Amendment.
“A government demand that records identify specific individuals reading specific expressive material, such as the subpoena at issue here, violates the First Amendment rights of both publisher and reader and must be destroyed accordingly,” attorneys said. van Gannett, the company that owns USA Today, said.
They added that the subpoena’s vague reference to “a federal criminal investigation” “may not justify such curtailment of free speech.”
The FBI has not commented on the subpoena or on what grounds it should have the information.
Usually, law enforcement agencies will first contact media companies to request information.
It is a cooperative process that does not require subpoenas.
The article was about David Lee Huber, 55, who was suspected of exchanging pornographic images of underage children engaging in sexual acts. He shot two FBI agents and then killed himself
BI agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were killed and three others were injured when 55-year-old David Huber started shooting
Gannett said directly on the subpoena that the FBI violated Justice Department policy and instead sought to forcefully arm USA Today to hand over readers’ personal information without any justification for doing so.
The FBI rarely comments when active investigations are involved, and usually won’t reveal the nature of investigations — even when it demands information it needs.
The FBI also did not disclose why it was investigating Huber.
Huber, who ran a computer consulting firm, is said to have used a doorbell camera to monitor the officers before opening fire on them through his locked door when they arrived to execute the search warrant.
It is clear that Schwartzenberger was killed instantly, but Alfin, who had been shot several times, returned fire before dying.
Three other officers were also injured in the shooting. Two of the officers who had to be hospitalized were released on Wednesday. The third agent was treated at the scene.
The divorced woman, who was injured when officers returned fire, committed suicide after being barricaded inside the apartment for several hours.
He was not listed as a sex offender and had no Florida criminal record with only minor traffic violations on his record.
Broward County records show that he was married for 16 years before divorcing in 2016 and fathered two children.