America’s FBI Withdraws Demand for IP Addresses of Readers of a Newspaper’s Story During a 35-Minute Window
UPDATE: America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation has now “withdrawn a subpoena demanding records from USA TODAY that would identify readers of a February story about a southern Florida shootout that killed two agents and wounded three others,” the newspaper reported today.

Friday USA Today had reported that it’s “fighting a subpoena from the FBI demanding records that would identify readers of a February story” about a Southern Florida shooting that killed two of the investigative agency’s agents and wounded three others.

Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 shared their original report on Friday:

In a motion filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. asking a judge to quash the subpoena, Gannett, USA TODAY’s parent company, said the effort is not only unconstitutional but also violates the Justice Department’s own rules… The subpoena, issued in April, demands the production of records containing IP addresses and other identifying information “for computers and other electronic devices” that accessed the story during a 35-minute time frame starting at 8:03 p.m. on the day of the shooting.

“Being forced to tell the government who reads what on our websites is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” Maribel Perez Wadsworth, USA TODAY’s publisher, said in a statement. “The FBI’s subpoena asks for private information about readers of our journalism….”

The subpoena, signed by an FBI agent in Maryland, said the records relate to a criminal investigation. But it’s unclear how USA TODAY’s readership records are related to the investigation of the Florida shooting, or why the FBI is focusing on the time frame. Wadsworth said Gannett’s attorneys tried to contact the FBI before and after the company fought the subpoena in court, but she said the FBI has yet to provide any meaningful explanation of the basis for the subpoena.

The FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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