Attention mean commenters: watch what you say or the Justice Department will hunt you down. Seriously! The U.S. Attorney in Nevada subpoenaed the Las Vegas Review-Journal to reveal the identities of two anonymous commenters whose statements could be read as mildly threatening to jurors involved in a tax case, if you’ve never read internet comments before.
The LVRJ originally received a federal grand jury subpoena on June 2 asking for the identities of every single commenter on a particular article posted to the newspaper’s website. The article was about a federal tax fraud case against a local business owner, Robert Kahre, and a number of the comments on the story alluded to (or directly described) physical violence against those who might convict Kahre.
“The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds,” reads one comment on the story. Another commenter wagered a bet that one of the prosecutors would not live to see his next birthday. Newer comments, such as one posted today, read “Death to the taxman. Death to the jury.
The Justice Department says the subpoena was sought “out of concern for juror safety.”
Despite the clear first amendment violation, we find this perfectly acceptable, and would gladly trade our banhammer for subpoena power. But this is why we don’t work for the Justice Department. Oh well!
Feds want paper to cough up identifying data on commenters [Ars Technica]