ACLU Explains Why It's Fighting To Protect Info On Anonymous Vegas Newspaper Commenters

from the you-should-be-able-to-criticize-the-gov't dept

We recently wrote about the fishing expedition US prosecutors went on trying to get all sorts of info (much of which didn't exist) on anonymous commenters on an article by the Las Vegas Journal-Review. The newspaper fought (publicly) the request as being way too broad, leading the feds to back down and greatly narrow the request to just info on four commenters. The newspaper appears to have no issue giving up that information, but the ACLU is still protesting, claiming that one should be able to anonymously criticize the government without having US Prosecutors track you down. Specifically, the ACLU notes that the US Attorneys are really stretching things to call the comments in question "threats" to the US Prosecutor involved in the lawsuit the article was about. It does seem clear that the comments weren't meant seriously. It sounds like people who disagree with the result of the case venting in the same way people vent on pretty much any forum online. That said, I would agree with the ACLU if the newspaper were being compelled to hand over the info. But if it voluntarily is handing over the info after being asked, then I'm not sure it's an issue for the ACLU to get involved in, because the decision is the newspaper's to make.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2009 @ 2:50pm


    It's like allowing anyone on the Internet, like someone I purchase goods from, to hand over my all my info (or to sell it) to anyone they feel like (ie: marketers). If there is no statutory obligation to do so then why should they be allowed to do so? Unless they tell me ahead of time, if you purchase a product from us you agree that we can hand over your information (or sell it) to anyone we wish. They have to make that clear. The government is a third party subject to these laws just like any other third party (including telemarketers and others) unless there is a statute that compels entities to hand over info to the government upon government request.

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