How can someone be treated as a suspect for merely reading an online news article? Do the freedom of the press and the public's right to access information online now hold within themselves an unforeseeable void?
In a recent example of federal government overreach, the FBI has demanded identifying information - including telephone numbers and IP addresses from USA Today - of individuals who read an online article during a specific interval. The subpoena came to light after the newspaper's parent company sought to fight it in court.
USA Today, in a statement to The Verge, said,
"We were surprised to receive this subpoena particularly in light of President Biden's recent statements in support of press freedom. The subpoena is also contrary to the Justice Department's own guidelines concerning the narrow circumstances in which subpoenas can be issued to the news media."
The said article throws light on the killing of two FBI agents serving a warrant in a child pornography case. The FBI sought the details of the individuals who accessed the article in a 35-minute window on February 2nd, 2021. Here is the snippet from the article.
Two FBI agents were killed and three were wounded in a shooting early Tuesday while agents were serving a warrant in a child exploitation case in Florida, according to the FBI. The suspect died of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound, a person familiar with the matter said.
The Government has so far maintained its silence on the unprecedented request. This request would essentially make every citizen a potential suspect for reading an online news article.