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U.S. attorney seeks identities of anonymous commenters

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
The Las Vegas Review-Journal is facing a federal subpoena for identifying information about people who commented on its Web site,…

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is facing a federal subpoena for identifying information about people who commented on its Web site, the newspaper disclosed Sunday.

Review-Journal Editor Thomas Mitchell wrote a sharply worded critique of the subpoena in his weekly column, while also disclosing what Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Damm is seeking. The newspaper had written a May 26 article about an ongoing tax evasion trial. The report drew more than 100 comments including some that were highly critical of Damm, according to Mitchell.

The grand jury subpoena requested information including "full name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers . . . the IP address" of people who posted on the story, according to Mitchell. The newspaper does not require people to register before commenting, so Mitchell said it doesn’t have much of the information Damm is requesting.

Mitchell also wrote that fighting the subpoena would be costly and likely to fail because there is no federal shield law, so the newspaper’s attorneys are working on limiting the scope of the subpoena.