When the US government demanded the IP address of every visitor to Indymedia's website (and ordered Indymedia to keep the request secret), Indymedia called the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF fought the subpoena -- which was grossly unconstitutional -- and won. Here's the story of how it happened, and remember, if you ever get a crazy, unconstitutional request from a G-man, stop and call a lawyer or get in touch with EFF.
From EFF's Secret Files: Anatomy of a Bogus Subpoena
The government added insult to injury by also inserting this language on the first page of the subpoena: "You are not to disclose the existence of this request unless authorized by the Assistant U.S. Attorney. Any such disclosure would impede the investigation being conducted and thereby interfere with the enforcement of the law."
The problem? The law doesn't require the recipient of a federal grand jury subpoena to keep the subpoena secret (which is why, typically, subpoenas often will "request" -- but not require -- a recipient's silence). There are certainly secrecy requirements for participants in the grand jury -- such as the jurors and the prosecutors -- but those requirements do not extend to witnesses (or potential witnesses such as a subpoena recipient). And although the SCA does provide the government with the option of obtaining a court order under 18 U.S.C. § 2705(b) requiring silence when the recipient's disclosure would have an adverse affect on an investigation, the government in this case did not obtain any such gag order.
In sum, without any legal authority to back up their purported gag demand, the government ordered Ms. Clair not to reveal the existence of the subpoena, a subpoena that as already described was patently overbroad and invalid under the SCA. This is exactly the kind of unjustified demand of silence that creates a fog around the government's often-overreaching surveillance activities. How many other subpoena recipients have remained silent over the years in response to such bogus demands, and how many of them violated their users' privacy by handing over data that the government wasn't entitled to? We simply do not know, and because of a lack of meaningful reporting about the government's use of the SCA, we cannot know.
We were determined that our client would not be one of the silenced, and that this illegal subpoena would eventually see the light of day.
Disney today released two new clips and a new little featurette from the studio’s upcoming live action film “The Jungle Book.” I’m also loving the stunning poster art for the new film by Vincent Aseo, shown above in detail and below in full.
Evan from Fight for the Future writes, “Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is trying to use a Congressional loophole to push through two attacks on our Internet freedom in the ‘omnibus’ must-pass budget bill that Congress is expected to file tonight. He wants to include the final version of CISA which has been completely […]
The “Freedom of Panorama” is the right to take pictures in public spaces, even if you incidentally capture copyrighted works, from building facades to public sculptures to images on t-shirts and ads — and on July 9, the EU will vote whether to abolish it.
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]