USA Today is fighting a request by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to identify information about readers who accessed the media giant’s story about a suspect in a child pornography case.
The story involved a man who killed two FBI agents and injured three others in a February raid in Florida. It has not been revealed why the FBI wants the information.
The office sent a subpoena in April stating that it wanted the IP addresses and phone numbers of people who accessed a press article about the incident between 8:03 a.m. and 8:38 a.m. on February 2.
The information sought by the FBI investigation was disclosed in the summons.
USA Today editor Gannett challenged FBI request in federal court on May 27, calling it unconstitutional and in violation of the Department of Justice’s policy on subpoena to press information.
“A government request for documents that would identify specific people reading specific expressive material, like the subpoena at issue here, invades the First Amendment rights of both publisher and reader, and must be quashed accordingly,” wrote Garnett’s lawyers.
The incident that sparked the legal battle occurred when David Lee Huber, 55, shot FBI agents serving a search warrant. He then turned the gun on him.
“We intend to fight the request for the assignment of credentials on people who viewed the USA Today report,” said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, USA Today editor and USA Today Network president in a statement. “To be forced to tell the government who reads what on our websites is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment.”