FBI tried to muscle newspaper into handing over reader IP addresses

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has scuttled its efforts to obtain the IP addresses, phone numbers and other information of readers of an online newspaper article as part of an ongoing investigation.

The article in question was published by United States of America today back in February and was related to the deaths of two FBI agents killed while serving warrants in a child abuse case in Florida.

According to the summons (PDF) sent to the news outlet, the government agency was trying to get information about readers who had accessed the article during the 35-minute window after publication. However, USA TODAY owner Gannett then asked a court to quash the summons because it was a clear violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

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in a statement to BBChandjob United States of America todayThe publisher of Maribel Perez Wadsworth provided further details on the situation, saying:

“Forcing the government to disclose who reads our websites is a clear violation of the First Amendment. FBI summons asking for personal information about readers of our journalism.”

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After Gannett pleaded for providing information about his readers, the FBI eventually backed down, saying BBC that it no longer requires the data originally sought due to “interventional investigative development”.

Another strange thing to note is that the suspect to whom the warrant was being issued took his own life after killing two bureau agents.

Why would the FBI need information about who read an article about the case when its prime suspect in the case was already dead?

Even if Gannett did hand over data about USA TODAY readers, what to say they couldn’t use a VPN service to hide their real location in an effort to better protect their privacy online. Were you?

thankfully both Gannett and United States of America today He stood his ground and did not allow the FBI to infringe on the constitutional rights of its readers. Hopefully the Bureau has learned its lesson, though we may never know why it wanted the IP addresses and phone numbers of the people who read the article in the first place.

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