Washington (AP) — The FBI is investigating information in the U.S. newspaper Ganet to track readers of a USA Today article on a suspected child pornography case that shot and killed two FBI agents in February. Issued a summons requesting that it be provided to. The subpoena filed with the company in April came to
Washington (AP) — The FBI is investigating information in the U.S. newspaper Ganet to track readers of a USA Today article on a suspected child pornography case that shot and killed two FBI agents in February. Issued a summons requesting that it be provided to.
The subpoena filed with the company in April came to light this week after a media company filed a document in federal court asking a judge to revoke the subpoena. The Justice Department’s actions were immediately criticized by defenders of press freedom.
The news came when the Justice Department revealed in recent weeks that it had seized reporter email and phone records in at least three individual cases during the Trump administration. This raises questions about what federal authorities have the freedom to use the press, journalists, and their work as research tools.
The subpoena asks for information about the person who clicked on the article for about 35 minutes from the day after the shoot. It looks for the location of your computer, the company or organization you belong to, and the IP address that may be used to identify its registration location, along with the identity of your mobile phone.
The subpoena does not specifically ask for the name of the person who read the article, but such identification could easily lead a federal agent to the reader.
Despite many other media outlets, including the Associated Press, reporting extensively on the shooting of Florida, one of the bloodiest days in FBI history, the FBI has provided information specifically on USA Today’s article. I don’t know why I asked for it.
The suspect fired at an investigator who arrived to serve as a federal investigation warrant in a child exploitation case. Two agents, Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwarzenberger, were killed and three were injured.
Maribel Perez Wasworth, publisher of USA Today and president of USA Today Network, wants the government to hand over “personal information” about readers to the press and is summoned to protect the relationship between readers and journalists. He said he was fighting the warrant. The company also contacted the FBI before asking the judge to revoke the subpoena, but she said she didn’t get “substantial answers or meaningful explanations about the alleged grounds of the subpoena.” Stated.
“We intend to counter the request for a subpoena to identify information about the individual who viewed the USA Today news report,” Wadsworth said in a statement. “Who is reading the content of our website?” Being forced to tell the government clearly violates the First Amendment. ”
FBI agents who signed the subpoena to Ganette have worked for years in child exploitation cases, testifying in several criminal cases related to child pornography crimes, newspaper articles and other public records. is showing.
The first subpoena reported by Politico states that information is needed as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Federal authorities do not provide additional details regarding the investigation.
“This is an extraordinary request that approaches the heart of the First Amendment. For good reason, courts have usually denied government access to this type of confidential information, except in very rare circumstances. “Jameel Jaffer, Secretary-General of the First Amendment to the Knights Institute at Columbia University, said.
Investigators have secretly secreted call records from journalists at The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN in recent weeks to identify sources that provided national security information released early in the Trump administration. It was revealed that it was obtained in. President Joe Biden has stated that the Justice Department will not seize reporters’ phone records, but it remains unclear if that promise will be kept.
“This subpoena, especially when viewed side by side with the subpoena made by the Justice Department under the Trump administration to obtain journalist records, requires stronger protection of records relating to freedom of speech and the press. Strongly suggests, “said Jafar. ..
The Justice Department has struggled to balance the constitutional rights of the media with the government’s interests in protecting sensitive information and collecting information on criminal cases in both Republican and Democratic governments.
During the 2007 investigation, FBI agents impersonated the Associated Press journalist while investigating the threat of a bomb at a high school in Washington State. When the agent communicated with the suspect online, he portrayed himself as an AP journalist, then sent a link to a forged AP news article, which the FBI could now locate the suspect. It was.
The ploy was announced in 2014, and two years later, the FBI imposed restrictions on the ability of investigators to impersonate reporters, but did not rule out that practice.
In 2013, federal investigators secretly seized the Associated Press reporter and editor’s two-month phone records, including 20 lines of phone records for both AP offices and journalists, including home and mobile phones. And seized.
The Justice Department then issued revised guidelines for leak investigations under then Attorney General Eric Holder, which required an additional level of review before journalists were summoned.
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