Justice Department issued secret subpoena for news site's traffic

Cristina Abello | Newsgathering | Quicklink | November 10, 2009

The Department of Justice earlier this year served and shortly thereafter withdrew a grand jury subpoena that sought information about all visitors to the journalism website Indymedia.us for one day, and also contained a gag order "not to disclose the existence of [the] request," CBSNews.com reports.

In the Jan. 23 subpoena the Justice Department demanded that the Philadelphia-based site’s server administrator turn over "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" -- meaning the logs of the Internet addresses of all the site's readers -- as well other available information including visitors' e-mail and home addresses, Social Security Numbers, and credit card numbers, for June 25, 2008.

The administrator, Kristina Clair, eventually sought the assistance of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco, which sent the Department letters discussing various legal defects of the request.

In its reply, the Justice Department stated the subpoena had been withdrawn — after its attorneys allegedly urged EFF not to disclose the existence of the subpoena. The Department of Justice did not reveal to which investigation the subpoena related, CBSNews.com reported.