A Justice Department subpoena requested that Indymedia.us hand over any information the website had on visitors who viewed the website on June 25, 2008. Indymedia is an independent left-leaning news website that addresses controversial issues such as gay rights. The website was targeted as part of a crime investigation by the state of Indiana. In addition to asking for identifying information such as IP addresses, email addresses, and bank account numbers, the Justice Department ordered Indymedia to keep quiet about the subpoena. Indymedia ultimately won the right to not hand over the information requested, which it said it did not have because it does not store visitor information for that long to protect the privacy of its visitors. The incident has raised a number of concerns from civil libertarians and privacy watchdog groups. The subpoena was a blatant violation of Indymedia’s Constitutional rights, since the company was unable to consult an attorney due to the Justice Department request that the subpoena be kept secret. The subpoena also violated the rights of Indymedia visitors, as many interpret the Constitution to guarantee Americans the right to read the news anonymously.
“Feds demanded identities of news site’s readers” J.D. Tuccille, Examiner, November 10, 2009
“Feds Wanted Private Data on All Visitors to Liberal News Site” Daniel Tencer, AlterNet, November 11, 2009
Student Researchers: Lynn Demos, Ben Solomon, Steve Wojanis
Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley, Associate Professor of Media Studies, DePauw University
Evaluator: Jeff McCall Ph.D, Professor of Communications