Home Las Vegas Newspaper Subpoenaed to Reveal Commenters’ Identities

Las Vegas Newspaper Subpoenaed to Reveal Commenters’ Identities

The Washington Post has reported that a Nevada newspaper has been served a grand jury federal subpoena to reveal the identities of commenters on its website. The newspaper editor is fighting the request.

The editor, Thomas Mitchell, received the subpoena after his paper covered the prosecution of business owner Robert Kahre in a federal tax fraud case. He is quoted as saying that anonymous speech, including online comments, is “a fundamental and historic part of this country,” but that his publication might cooperate if specific crimes or threats were a factor.

The subpoena is asking for commenters’ addresses, birth dates, genders, telephone numbers, ISPs, IP addresses, and credit card numbers, all for comments of a generally one-sided but relatively harmless nature. As is common on many websites, including this one, comments are permitted under pseudonyms.

U.S. Assistant District Attorney J. Gregory Damm’s name appears on the subpoena. He was also the prosecuting attorney for the case which was the subject of the original report.

Comments from the article in question call Damm “a socialist, fascist Mormon” (which is a radical contradiction in terms) and a “Nazi moron,” which is a lovely example of Godwin’s law. Another comment reads, “The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds.” On the same website, comments of an antisemitic, extremist nature exist and occasionally abound.

Thanks to Rex Dixon for sending this news our way.

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