US Subpoenaed All Visitor Logs From Online News Publication; Falsely Said Site Couldn't Tell Anyone

from the the-abuse-of-secrecy dept

We've seen it over and over again: when the government can hide behind the veil of secrecy, it can abuse its power. That's why we're supposed to have checks and balances on power, but all too often governments figure out ways to get around that. The latest example is that US attorneys issued a subpoena to the person hosting the news website Indymedia, demanding a logfile of all visitors from a particular day and ordered the woman not to reveal the existence of the subpoena itself. Indymedia doesn't keep its logfiles, so it simply had nothing to turn over, and after realizing this, the government withdrew the request. However, the requirement to stay silent about it still was there, and the woman asked the EFF for help. With the EFF involved, the government finally backed down and admitted that there was absolutely no legal basis for demanding that the woman not talk about the subpoena, and "chose not to go to court" over the matter, despite threatening to at an earlier time.

This is hardly the first time we've heard about the government using (and abusing) procedures like national security letters to not just demand all sorts of info, but also demand that the recipient not tell anyone about it. Every once in a while we're able to hear about these situations because a group like the EFF or the ACLU pushed back and were able to get the US government to back down, but that's likely only a fraction of the situations where this has happened. In many others, we likely don't even know at all, because the recipient gave in, either because they didn't realize their legal rights, or because it just wasn't worth the fight. But when the government thinks that it can demand certain data and cloak the demand behind a related demand for secrecy, it makes it way too easy for the government to abuse the process. It basically guarantees no oversight, so why not ask for way more than the law requires, knowing that most people won't push back and no one will ever find out about it?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 6:46am

    Government of the people myth

    This "Government of the people" is a crock and should be disbanded. In reality the United States is a Plutocracy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Call me Al, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 7:00am

    Sounds like extortion to me. "Give this to me now and if you tell anyone I'll be round to break your legs."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    It's what you call "Tyranny".

    It's a Government for the Government by the Government and for the Bankers by the Bankers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Richard Corsale, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    Re: Government of the people myth

    Oligarchy actually, The same fools have run the country since JFK. The just re-brand it every 4-8 years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Stuart, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:05am

    Re:

    Don't forget the Big and Small businesses and the Unions and the Lawyers. The only thing the Government dose not look after is the people. Now with the Tyranny thing. That is what you get when the government gives you everything. The "Soft Tyranny" of 10 Billion laws and regulations to make sure that everyone is in violation of at least a few to gain control over the masses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re: Government of the people myth

    "Oligarchy actually, The same fools have run the country since JFK. The just re-brand it every 4-8 years."

    Waaaaaay before then. More like around the time the first national bank was created. People with very familiar last names (Morgans, Rothschilds, Rockefellers, etc.).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:42am

    The government and big corporations are working HARD every day and every night to destroy the communication structure that the Internet provides and to create a regulatory structure that hinders free speech just like they have already done with public airwaves and cableco infrastructure and the existing technology outside the Internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    jjmsan (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:45am

    Same people

    No, they haven't. The whole there is no difference between the parties and everything is the same got us George Bush and the Iraq war. There are differences between the parties and how they run the government. If you want to hide behind the nothing I can do makes a difference fine, but that's what it is. You can go out and work on changes or you can talk about how everything is bad and nothing can be done. Personally, I prefer at least trying. That way even if I lose I can be satisified that at least I tried.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:01am

    Re: Same people

    Well, yeah, there is the "work on changes" attitude, but that relies on working within the confines and rules of the system, which are designed to prevent you from making any real change.

    Then there is the "nothing can be done" attitude. This attitude is more realistic, in that it acknowledges the rigged system, and says in essence, "I can't change things from within the confines and rules which have been set up, so I'm just going to get together with a bunch of other people and begin to subvert the system."

    This latter method actually works, because there is no rigging possible with anarchy and subversion. The riggers of systems get all hot and bothered when their control mechanisms break down.

    Viva La Revolution!

    (The shame is, what usually happens is that when the control mechanisms break down and subversion starts, the riggers of systems back off *just enough* to cause the subversion to wane. People get fat and lazy again, and we're back on track. They've learned not to piss people off *too* much, and just rely on a formula to do as much damage as possible, without tipping the boat over. As long as we remain blind to this, we will always get the least possible freedom that the rigging will allow.)

    CBMHB

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Same people

    Well said. To the point that, "There are differences between the parties and how they run the government", the logic FAIL there is that they DON'T run the government.

    There is little to no choice in major elections today. When you realize that 90% or so of the money (made that up, but maybe there's a true figure out there) that BOTH parties get comes from the same sources, you begin to see the problem.

    Controlling elections isn't done by rigging the votes so that one favored candidate wins. It's done by making sure that no matter WHO wins, it's your guy....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Same people

    And then getting your media buddies to polarize everyone on issues that don't matter to you as a corporation and that probably won't change a whole lot during the term anyway, because realistically the president has very little power on those issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    CommieBlaster, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

    Obama's Communist Administration is Killing the Constitution

    Look here at many examples of Obama's unrestrained abuse of the law: http://www.commieblaster.com/news/index.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    jjmsan (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Same people

    I would agree that the system operates to prevent radical change. I would also say that preventing such change is built into the system design. Radical change that is your radical change is good from your viewpoint, but if the rules allow you(or your party)to do it they allow your opponent to do so also. You would then have a system that whiplashed back and forth between 2 poles. Since such changes tend to be of a more violent nature you have a lot of death and destruction. The current system we have in the US was an attempt to limit that by splitting the power between 2 different arms of government. The Supreme Court established its claim by a court decision(Martin vs. Malbury I think) so we have 3 separate power centers. This provides stability which I would say is the whole purpose of government. While it can be very annoying it seems to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Jamie, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    Re: Obama's Communist Administration is Killing the Constitution

    But what about Bush's? This subpoena was entered into the court record on 1/23/09. I doubt that Obama had a prosecutor take the case, got a grand jury seated and got them and a judge to allow this subpoena after being in office only 3 days. The fact is this case started under Bush, including the subpoena. It was withdrawn on 2/25/09 under Obama and AG Holder.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 6:28am

    Don't let partisanship confuse you here... hehe

    I'm sure - this is only ONE of many such 'requests'. By the Bush administration, the Obama administration, etc, etc, etc.

    Our one-party system just does so much it's hard to hide now.

    Oh wait - was it supposed to be 'two-parties' like Network News tells us? lol, not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This