Declan McCullagh is reporting that earlier this year the Department of Justice subpoenaed the left-of-center news aggregation site Indymedia.us for information including visitor lists and IPs, then issued a gag order forbidding them to talk about it unless authorized to do so. From CBSNews.com:
The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded “all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us” on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to “include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information,” including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers’ Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.
This gag order presents a particular problem for any news organization in a nation that prides itself on it’s freedom of the press.
Indeed, McCullagh says that news organizations are entitled to special limiting processes when they are subpoenaed, such as requiring “the express authorization of the attorney general.” Information gained from a subpoena issued to a news organization must also be limited in nature.
Apparently the Department of Justice isn’t at liberty to say why the subpoena was issued, although the
demand request was retracted after the Electronic Frontier Foundation caught wind of the situation via an Indymedia server administrator and offered to represent the organization free-of-charge. The Attorney General’s office reportedly has no knowledge of the request. Naturally.