Justice Department demands list of Web site visitors – or visitor?

Well this is somewhat interesting. The United States District Court in southern Indiana demanded information on all IP traffic to and from indymedia.us on June 25, 2008. They want subscriber data including personal identification details.

But, has CBS news dropped the ball on their reporting? When I look at the scanned PDF of the subpoena,  I noted strange spacing in the details of the request. That made me thing that some of the information in the scan was redacted from the original.

Although Pamela Gellar over at Atlas Shrugs asks … on what grounds? … I’m not sure the subpoena was a demand to provide information on all visitors. I think it possible the request by U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis may have been specific to one suspect, of which the FBI already had the username and other details.

Note that the subpoena was withdrawn and the U.S. attorney has not provided details as to why it was created or pulled.

Here is a PDF of the subpoena, which I’ve transcribed (part of it) here. Note my emphasis (questions) within the brackets and in bold below.

Please provide the following information pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 2703(c)(2):

All IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us (, June 25, 2008. Include IP address, times, and other identifying information [from?]

  1. All customers or subscriber account information for any accounts registered to the following username or identification number: [information redacted?]
  2. All customer or subscriber account information for any accounts registered to the following e-mail address: [information redacted?]
  3. All customer or subscriber account information for any accounts registered to the following IP address – date, time and time zone: [information redacted?]
  4. All customer …

I’m not listing the rest of the subpoena’s demands, but can a lawyer chime in and let me know if my read of the document is correct or incorrect? Does it seem important details are missing from the request when you read the grammar context?

Now, if the Justice Department can demand information on all visitors to a Web site just to have a data set to review, that certainly would raise some red flags. If they were looking for details on a specific comment or post to a site or blog, that would be a different story.

You can read more over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Web site, who has more details.

CBS notes

The Independent Media Center is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of unity and mission statement – work toward “promoting social and economic justice” and “social change.”

Exit questions. Is it possible the Independent Media Center redacted the information in the PDF they released? Could the release of the document have been one final shot at the Bush administration after they left office?

Just askin’…

Update: Missed the following from Ed at Hot Air earlier today.

Why concern ourselves over the plight of Indymedia, a left-leaning outfit looking for “social change”?  Obviously, we do the same kind of aggregation as Indymedia, which doesn’t offer much in the way of original content and reporting.  We don’t collect physical addresses or banking information, but we would assume that any government willing in its third day in office to demand that kind of information and compliance from Indymedia would have no reluctance to demand something similar of Hot Air.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.

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