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The Courts Government Privacy Communications News

NYC Lawyers Subpoena Code 132

RonMcMahon writes "Lawyers for the city of New York have subpoenaed the text message records of thousands of people involved in demonstrations at the 2004 Republican National Convention. Tad Hirsch, creator of the TXTmob code that enabled convention demonstrators to transmit messages to thousands of telephones, has been instructed to release the content of messages exchanged on the service and to identify people who sent and received messages. Hirsch argues that release of such information would be a violation of users' First Amendment and privacy rights. 'I think I have a moral responsibility to the people who use my service to protect their privacy,' said Hirsch."
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NYC Lawyers Subpoena Code

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  • Subpoena? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bckspc (172870) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:49AM (#22929482) Homepage
    It's GPLed! Just download the code at []

    • Re:Subpoena? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:55AM (#22929522) Homepage Journal
      But that's not really what is being requested. As often happens, the slash headline doesn't represent the slash article. Neither appears to represent what's said in the real article. The code wasn't subponaed, the author was. What they are looking for are lists of texters and the text contents.
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <> on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:12AM (#22929612) Homepage
        The data cannot be subpoena'd if it does not exist. Why does his system keep records of who said what to whom? And if it needs the records, why doesn't it delete them after a short period? And if the system does keep an archive, why didn't he delete it manually before now, if people's privacy is so important?
      • by myspace-cn (1094627) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:28AM (#22929692)
        For those who have forgotten (or never heard about) the whole unconstitutional ordeal. []

        Down with Amurkan fascists! And their plastic orange fences.
        We have all gone to look for America.
        • by hedwards (940851)
          I'm trying to figure out on what grounds those attorneys are seeking the information. AFAICT it's just a cynical attempt by a few Republican attorneys to stifle the people's freedom to peaceably assemble.

          And I wholeheartedly agree with the decision not to cooperate with this order.

          I fail to see how this subpoena is uniquely capable of getting the relevant information. Seems more like a wide net attempt to get information on people that aren't involved in the suits. If they're just interested in discovery, p
        • For covering Bush's ass on every single act of treachery and instead, enabling the persecution of a man who used technology to campaign for freedom. Down with Hillary Clintush!
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        As often happens, the slash headline doesn't represent the slash article. Neither appears to represent what's said in the real article. The code wasn't subponaed, the author was.
        Or maybe someone just left off the last letter: NYC Lawyers Subpoena Coder.
  • LEARN (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:51AM (#22929494)
    They cannot subpoena logs that you don't keep.
    • They cannot subpoena logs that you don't keep.
      You might wanna ask TorrentSpy about that one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by meringuoid (568297)
        As I understood it, TorrentSpy were ordered to begin keeping logs. Not to hand over logs that didn't exist, but to begin logging and hand that over. NYC could do the same here, but that wouldn't get them the information from 2004.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      They cannot subpoena logs that you don't keep.

      but they can haul your ass before a judge and ask you to disclose everything you know about your users and your system.

      to say you can't remember, to say you can't recall, is likely land you in jail until your memory improves.

      in this situation you are not the anonymous coward.

      you are the guy up front, naked and exposed, when something goes wrong.

      "the eighteen minute gap," the camera pointed in the wrong direction. nothing on record is likely to be quite so ba

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kefaa (76147)
        "You" only get dragged in front of a judge if you are a fool. Anyone who believes they can go into a court without a lawyer truly has a fool for a client.

        Having said that, you may still end up in court, and if you have setup a deletion policy (even if it is a policy that no logs are kept), and you follow the policy in all cases, little can be done. There is sufficient precedent to support the deletion of logs, emails, etc. as perfectly legal and within the realm of business propriety. Where trouble start
        • by spud603 (832173)

          Anyone who believes they can go into a court without a lawyer truly has a fool for a client.

          Not anymore. []
          • by sumdumass (711423)
            They have lawyers available to them. If they don't use them, they are still fools.

            The lawyers are military lawyers which seems like an automatic conflict of interest but they have lawyers available.
    • These were/are SMS. If the TXTMob data doesn't exist anymore (and why would you keep the content anyway unless he had some type of "digest" that he sent out later), I bet they'll get the data from the mobile phone providers. There's only a handful of providers, and since we know all of the messages originated or were destined for the TXTMob server, piece of cake. A well placed regex and game over. Maybe not 100% of the messages, but enough for the lawyers to prove their points.
    • No, but most telecommunications laws require you to keep records of activity. Failure to do so can be both costly and detrimental to your personal freedom.
  • by electrictroy (912290) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:54AM (#22929518)
    If this was a corporation (which has no soul or moral code), the content of the messages would already be in NYC's lawyers' hands.

    Fortunately in this case, it's a man who believes in human rights.
    • P.S.

      I don't understand why New York thinks it has a legitimate reason to read everybody's private text messages from 4 years ago. What possible relevance do those messages have to anything?

      Reminds me of my grandmother (reading other people's mail just to be nosy).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sumdumass (711423)
        People actively and purposely violated a law in new york. This cost the city money and created semi-unsafe situations. The organizers of this lawbreaking can be charged in much the same way organized crime is charged.

        Currently, people are suing the city because they where arrested back in 2004 in connections to illegal protests surrounding the RNC convention. The city wants this information to be able to prove or disprove their connections to willfully violating the laws which would make the suits meaningle
    • Riiiight. That's why it's taken how many years to get the code released on the breathalyzer? A corporation would stall, stutter, fight just as much as a private individual. In fact most private individuals would cave whereas a corporation would provide lawyer after lawyer while saying it's a trade secret, etc.

      I'm surprised that you'd consider a corporation capable of just rolling over and playing dead. Yes the airlines did that for the TSA...

      Being incorporated doesn't make you evil.
      • by Lockejaw (955650) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:18AM (#22929636)
        I think GP's point is that it's easier to be evil when you aren't signing your own name to the order.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by electrictroy (912290)
        There's a difference:

        - You said the corporation is fighting to protect its breathalyzer code. It wants to maintain its own property & future profits. Makes perfect sense.

        - But what if the State sued the corporation to obtain the *emails* sent across the machines? Does the corporation have a vested interest to protect them? Nope. The corporation will not fight. It will just hand them over to the government, as if they were best friends.

        In this particular case, we have a man who has no vested intere
      • >>>"Being incorporated doesn't make you evil."

        I didn't say it did. I said corporations are soulless/lacking morals. A corporation makes decisions based upon their own desire to increase profit. They will not fight a "hand over all emails" court order if there's no profit to gain from that fight. They follow a very simple conditional statement:


        Cold. Calculating. Corporation.

    • by will_die (586523) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:07AM (#22929576) Homepage
      If he was interested in human rights we would release the text since knowing the information would help free the people being charged in the lawsuits or it would prove that something wrong was done and make sure those people had no chance of doing the same thing in the future.
      Instead he stored the messages for some personnal or business reason.
      • If he stored the messages from 2004 (which may or may not be true),

        then he likely did it for the same reason why my company stores messages. Because the government forces them to store the messages. It's not a matter of "choice" if the government is holding a gun to your held ("save all emails, else serve time in jail").

        • by will_die (586523)
          Provided you are not a federal agency, deal with financial & tax information or health information there is no US law, until you get a suspenia to produce the info then you are required to safeguard the info, that requires that you to store mail or most of the information that companies keep. There have been some pushes to require companies to store some information but even then they are talking about 3 years.
          Looking at the company, it is more an organization, they would have no legal reason to keep
  • Like this one.

    You don't know me.

    You don't know whether it is really me writing this or someone pretending to be me.

    You don't know how many "me"s there are behind this nickname.

    You don't know how many other accounts I have that pretend to be someone besides me.

    Which me is the real me?

    Which you is the real you?

    Which way to Kathmandu?

    Would you, could you in a car?

    Eat them, eat them! Here they are.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:23AM (#22929662) Homepage Journal

      You don't know me.
      Sure I do. You're BadAnalogyGuy.

      You don't know whether it is really me writing this or someone pretending to be me.'s you. Just a guess though.

      You don't know how many "me"s there are behind this nickname.

      You don't know how many other accounts I have that pretend to be someone besides me.

      Which me is the real me?

      Which you is the real you?

      Which way to Kathmandu?
      That way! ===>

      Would you, could you in a car?
      From afar? Or with a jar?

      Eat them, eat them! Here they are.
      Mmmmmm...burgers from a bar?

      • by megaditto (982598)
        Looks like some kind of a OTP-enccrypted paedophile exchange to me. Time to subpoena Slashdot!
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        I don't think the messages are important other then to establish a person was intented to recieve one and that directions in the message could collaborate a reason to why you are at a specific place as a specific time.

        Lets say I masqueraded as your father and sent your a message to meet me at location 3 at the second time we discussed earlier. Me being at the same spot pretending to be your father at a certain time could demonstrate that you "intended" to meet your father at a specific time and place. Of co
  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:55AM (#22929524) Homepage Journal
    Anonymous political speech has a long tradition in the US. Many of our founding fathers hid behind pseudonyms while writing many of what are termed 'The Federalist Papers' which laid much of the groundwork for the US Constitution.

    If the messages were inciting people to break the law I could possibly understand, but on the face of what few facts I have on the subject right now my knee wants to jerk right into the Government's jaw a few times.
    • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:16AM (#22929630)
      even telling people to break the law shouldn't be illegal though, because some laws are unjust and NEED to be challenged, and that kind of freedom to challenge authority needs to be encouraged.

      frankly i grow tired of being snooped on

      • by squiggleslash (241428) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:38AM (#22929750) Homepage Journal

        Well, the whole point of breaking the law to overturn a bad law is that you're challenging it by standing up and saying "I'm prepared to be punished for this, because I don't believe it's just that others should be." So if your purpose in telling people to break the law is to encourage civil disobedience, but you yourself have no plans to be punished, then you're not doing it right.

        A more important principle is that people shouldn't be denied their rights to participate in the democratic process because they've broken the law. That those convicted of crimes are permanently barred from voting in the majority of states is essentially a gateway to legalized vote-rigging (look at the lifestyles of your opponents and criminalize it), and a barrier to overturning unjust laws that affect large numbers of people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Not everybody is a Ghandi, or a Martin Luther King. Some of us are not willing to go to jail, and breaking the law anonymously, and encouraging others to do so, is an important step that we can take to obtain freedom.

          I totally agree with you about taking away citizen's voting rights.
          • by sumdumass (711423)
            The interesting thing here is that if I encouraged a mob or gang to end your loved one's life, you would be hammering for me to be punished just as well.

            There is such a thing as conspiracy and inciting violence on connection to any crime. You might not be willing to accept the consequences of the actions directly but it doesn't absolve you from those actions if you took part in encouraging them or making them happen at your direction. If a mob boss order a hit on someone, that boss can be just as liable as
        • by MickLinux (579158)
          Now please explain the whole point behind Guantomino, or the Polish torture prison, or to expand to more of history... the Russian trials under Stalin and Lenin, or (going back a good deal farther) "Paul the Chain" [] under Constantius, 354 AD.

      • by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @08:24AM (#22930046) Homepage Journal
        You're correct to a point. I should have clarified as 'inciting to violence' rather than inciting to break the law. Civil disobedience is a good thing. For that matter, there sometimes comes a point where violent revolution is a good thing as well (prior art: The American Revolution).

        I am basically of the mind that you just have to follow the course of the three boxes. Soap Box, then Ballot Box, then Ammo Box. I also hope and pray that the latter option is never really required. I would far prefer a political revolution to an armed one.
        • by Ironsides (739422) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @08:41AM (#22930190) Homepage Journal
          Here's the actual quote.
          "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
          soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
          -Ed Howdershelt (Author)
          • Yes I know but with regards to our Government, if the first two fail the jury box isn't going to do you any good, because at that point you've probably already lost the court system as well. I prefer my condensed version with regards to the protection of liberty, since all too often the courts and juries are used to restrict liberty and not enhance it.

            Still, I probably should have properly attributed the quote from which I draw that particular philosophical notion. Thanks for elaborating.
            • Have you ever heard of jury nullification []?
              • Yes. The problem is both sides and the judge nowadays do their best to collude in order to pick mostly stupid people who have no idea of their real rights. Take a look at the typical 'instructions' a judge gives them as well.

                Lawyers and judges (who are lawyers in robes, after all), HATE jury nullification and have done a pretty good job of neutering it.
            • by stinerman (812158)
              And for that matter, the only ones who are willing to take up arms against the government are those who would do so only if the government came to take their arms.
    • by Threni (635302)
      DON'T KEEP LOGS! Delete them after 24 hours if you have to. Don't worry about it - once they're sent, they're sent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)

      but on the face of what few facts I have on the subject right now my knee wants to jerk right into the Government's jaw a few times.
      Interesting, but I suggest leaving off mentioning the jaw. It's better when you leave it up to their imagination:

      "Mr. Government, don't make me jerk my knee. You may not like where my knee ends up."
    • by ultranova (717540)

      Anonymous political speech has a long tradition in the US. Many of our founding fathers hid behind pseudonyms while writing many of what are termed 'The Federalist Papers' which laid much of the groundwork for the US Constitution.

      And it appears that the current US government learned the lesson from that, and is taking steps to avoid a repetition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      This isn't about anonymity and expression. It is about the city demonstrating that the people suing them where arrested for being in a specific location with a specific intent that justified their arrest even though they weren't officially charged with a crime.

      They are suing over being falsely arrested during the RNC convention in 2004. The city claims they had a legitimate reasons ofr their arrest and detention even though they didn't charge the people.
  • T'was ever thus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <> on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:58AM (#22929536)

    Every time you surrender your rights to the state in return for assurances that a) people who might be breaking some minor law like jaywalking have nothing to worry about and b) the new powers will be used only against the really, really bad people, should sit up and take notice. This is exactly the kind of thing you can expect.

    How many people who want to exercise their legal right to protest will sit home next time because their career ambitions include jobs where even being on the same street as a protest could knock them off the hiring list?

    It's always best to assume governments and police forces are led by lying, treacherous fascists. You will occasionally be pleasantly surprised to find that it's not the case. More often, you'll find out that power-tripping assholes are attracted to those jobs the same way child molesters are attracted to schoolgrounds and bank robbers are attracted to banks.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How many people who want to exercise their legal right to protest will sit home next time because their career ambitions include jobs where even being on the same street as a protest could knock them off the hiring list?

      Protesting is a waste of time, a hobby for the ineffective and unemployed.

      Want to know their real angle? Imagine being a traveling professional who is unable to travel because of the "do not fly" list. Or runs the risk of missing flights and having corporate property stolen or destroyed beca
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hyades1 (1149581)

        I disagree with your opinion on public protest. It has been and remains an effective tool to change public policy. Why do you think governments are so anxious to suppress it?

        And while you may be right about air travel, I think you have to acknowledge that other alternatives remain, though they may impose a burden on the traveler. I would expect that sooner, rather than later, American professionals who need to fly frequently will be forced to submit to thorough vetting in return for some kind of enhanc

        • Re:T'was ever thus (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Omestes (471991) < minus poet> on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @01:36PM (#22932870) Homepage Journal
          I think the parent is correct about much of modern protest, but not all. But even if it is abused, or done for no real reason, it still is a handy tool that we may need someday (or, arguably now).

          I remember in college I had a bunch of friends telling me about the "die in" (basically laying down, acting dead-ish in the student union) they were holding. This was fine an noble, but they were completely unable to actually tell anyone what it was over, but they still got around 70-100 people to participate. I think, in the end, it was over the food supplier for the university or something, but I'm not sure since the organizers still won't tell me.

          Yearly PRISM (the gay activist club) would organize demostations and protests for equal rights and gay marriage, one year it was then doing some stupid musical/play thing in the middle of campus. All it served was to make it impossible to study there, and to set them further apart from the rest of us (making it easier to single them out). Though the year previous they organized my favorite demonstration ever, "Gay people being gay", and it consisted of them sitting around the commons, studying, and socializing normally, while surrounded by yellow police tape, showing people that they were just people. I actually signed their petition that year.

          Most protesters act outragious, and thus can pointed out at deviants and oddballs, which weakens to position that people are protesting. It makes it easier for someone to point at them and discredit them. By acting like morons they discredit their own cause. Ideally protesters should wear business attire, have professional signs, and offer and eloquent message, this way they have the image of at least treating their issue seriously, and don't come off as a bunch of mentally unstable ex-hippies wearing hemp pants who actually believe that the GOP eats babies.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      More often, you'll find out that power-tripping assholes are attracted to those jobs the same way child molesters are attracted to schoolgrounds and bank robbers are attracted to banks.

      And those who can't make the cut acting out their power-trip over adults will eventually find their way to being school board administrators and school principals where the targets are easier.

  • An April Fool's post, or sh!thead attorneys?
    • by IBBoard (1128019)
      Okay, so maybe it is a day to be a bit more dubious than most, but this is lawyers we're talking about. So what if there's some "constitution" thing that might get in their way, they'll do what they're paid to do - interpret everything in their own way to get at the info they want. Such is the way of lawyers.
  • Keeping records (Score:3, Insightful)

    by naich (781425) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:06AM (#22929572) Homepage
    Why keep records at all? If I was organising something that could be used for civil disobedience then I'd make sure it was all anonymous with no records kept for precisely this reason.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If you had read the article, he states that he doesn't have any logfiles, that he won't hand over anything due to privacy concerns and the overreaching aspect of the subpoena.

      Note also that he hasn't been ordered by the court yet, only that the lawyers representing the city demanded the info through a scary-looking nastygram.
      • by Firethorn (177587)
        And to be honest, lawyers send overreaching, unenforceable nastygrams all the time. Whether it's claiming copyright or trademark infringement where there is none, or it fits a valid exemption in the law, such as for review or parody.

        It's a scare tactic.
        • The threat of legal action is NOT the same as legal action.

          It takes about 20 minutes, $0.50 in postage and one sheet of fancy high-bond paper to threaten. It's trivial. And probably rather successful.

          And let's be real.. this kid isn't involved in an RIAA lawsuit, he's not being sued by SCO for some linux code that NOBODY cares about outside the people reading this website.

          This is politics, a guy who made it easy to protest against BushCo.

          I guarantee that he can raise $50,000 for legal defense in about 3 day
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Firethorn (177587)
            Yes, I know that the threat isn't the same as actually taking legal action, that's why I called it a scare tactic.

            And for many of the letters I've seen evidence for, if it took them 20 minutes I'd be surprised. Many look almost like the form letters of old with open spaces to type in the relevant information via typewriter.

            As for the $50k defense fund, I'd hit the RNC up, personally. They'd probably be willing to throw that much at it just to keep anything embarrasing out of the public eye, even if it'd o
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CodeBuster (516420)

      Why keep records at all?
      Be careful what you say, don't step out of line, big brother is this really how we want to live? Constantly looking over our shoulders, conducting business in secret, suspicious of our neighbors, and tight-lipped about what we say in public?
  • I feel obliged to point out that this article concerns New York City Lawyers, not NewYorkCountryLawyer []. ;)
  • Why did he keep identified copies of all the messages if there was never an intent to release or use them?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Lawyers representing the city in lawsuits filed by hundreds of people arrested during the convention asked Mr. Hirsch to hand over voluminous records revealing the content of messages exchanged on his service and identifying people who sent and received messages.

    Want to bet at least part of NYC's defense is that at least some of those arrested actually set out to be arrested?

    And that the text messages will prove that?
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      LOL are these those protestors for hire types? bunch of scum need a good dose of pepper spray and a baton to the back of the legs.
  • I do not understand. It is impossible to reveal or be forced to disclose that which you never retained or had distroyed in the normal course of business. Otherwise, your records are entirely at the mercy of a judge who almost certainly wants more evidence, not less, the better to judge. The assumption of an impartial or at least privacy-respecting judiciary does not hold.

    Do phone companies record phone calls? Of course not? So why should text companies record content? Even recording traffic should on

  • ...have the missing White House e-mails been located yet?
  • I don't understand why he kept the information, but if he really wants to take a stand on this, he should delete it immediately, before they come in with a warrant.
    • Too late; it's already been subpoenaed. Destroying information for which you have been served a subpoena can get you real prison time. In fact, that's what subpoena means: "Under (threat of) punishment".
  • by javakah (932230)
    Perhaps these anti-GOP demonstrators should in fact be embracing GOP leader. By that I mean if the GOP can 'accidentally' electronic records (and backups!) that they were specifically legally bound to keep, couldn't these demonstrators also 'accidentally' lose those records as well? (I'm not actually advocating that they do this, I'm just pointing out that it's kind of ridiculous that even anti-GOP demonstrators keep copies of data while the GOP all too conveniently lose their data that may well be even m
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You do know that it's not the RNC asking for this info, right? It's the lawyers for the City of New York because the city is being sued. And while the city is ostensibly run by a republican mayor, it is for republicans like him for which the term RINO was invented.
  • The NY Times article isn't particularly informative. It has some information, but not the specifics I was looking for. Here's some semi-useful info:

    The subpoena is connected to a group of 62 lawsuits against the city that stem from arrests during the convention and have been consolidated in Federal District Court in Manhattan. About 1,800 people were arrested and charged, but 90 percent of them ultimately walked away from court without pleading guilty or being convicted.

    I am not a lawyer, nor do I use the accompanying initialism, but can the "city" issue a subpoena? I guess a lawyer could as an agent of the court or whatever, and a lawyer could work for the city, but I thought they were issued by some clerk who had to get sign off by some judge? In which case (unless I am wrong, of course), I'd be more concerned about the

    • The Times piece probably written by a college sophomore for a newspaper... Since when did you need qualifications to write for a newspaper

      Famous journalists are usually famous despite their bad journalism, and usually not because they are good writers?

      Try doing this in the UK and hit the data protection act, this is personal data and so would have to be requested (and justified) for each specific user ...
      • by samkass (174571)
        Try doing this in the UK and hit the data protection act, this is personal data and so would have to be requested (and justified) for each specific user ...

        Except that in the UK the government would already have been tracking everyone and wouldn't need to get it from a third party.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cfulmer (3166)
      IIRC, the subpoena is generally signed by a clerk of court. The party being subpoenaed can file a motion to quash the subpoena, in which case the judge looks at it. If the subpoena is vastly overbroad, there may be sanctions against the party trying to enforce it.

      I don't really see any problems with this. The city is trying to defend itself in a series of lawsuits about its arrests of a bunch of protesters. One of the elements of its defense is probably that the people who were arrested were not just in
      • by yuna49 (905461)
        One of the elements of its defense is probably that the people who were arrested were not just innocent bystanders caught up in the spur of the moment, but had planned and coordinated their effort. And, that's most easily discovered by subpoenaing records of that planning and coordination. Perfectly legitimate.

        Why is "planning and coordinating" a protest somehow illegitimate? Are only "spontaneous" protests protected by the First Amendment? I think not.

        Frankly I don't see how it matters if the protesters
        • by cfulmer (3166)
          If the only thing they did was protest, you're right. But, as a cousin comment notes, protests are often accompanied by illegal activity: property damage, assault, trespassing, disorderly conduct, disrupting traffic, etc..... When a protester is arrested, it's usually for one of these things, not for the actual act of protest which, I agree, is typically speech protected by the first amendment. My recollection of the news reports at the time is that there was a lot of this sort of stuff going on.

          If any o
  • Something like this that happened nearly 4 years ago can't be that important to still be wasting lawyers on.

    Can it?
  • I smell shades of McCarthy'ism... What is going on with this country when there is so much divide that people are resorting to out an out violations of constitutional law. And; if memory serves me correct, this has shades of Watergate on it too.... Hmmm... The only thing they haven't done is break into some building housing said logs with which to look at them...
  • Quite an interesting topic, especially when you look at it in the light that those in The White House are seemingly able to get away
    with simply claiming that about 2 years of their own emails got erased from their server backups and cannot be retrieved, (...pffft!!...)
    and no one appears too bothered by it enough to sue for what may well have been a motherlode of information on how the war in
    Iraq was handled, and other crucial tidbits which clearly were supposed to have been a matter of public record, an
  • Hirsch argues that release of such information would be a violation of users' First Amendment and privacy rights.
    Wouldn't this violate their privacy?
  • The lawyers filing the subpoena are representing the city who is being sued by the protesters. The city believes the text messages will provide the city with a defense to why the protesters were arrested. It's not about the first amendment.
    • by base3 (539820)
      Why would the content of communications have any bearing whatsoever on why they were arrested? Actions the protesters took and eyewitness accounts would speak to whether there was anything relevant. I know little about this case, but if they need to go on a fishing expedition through text messages after the fact to find a reason to justify the arrests, it sure looks like they are on pretty thin ice.
    • Nope, it's not about free speech. It's about the right to peacefully assemble and protest. NYC infringed this right, and now they're trying to get a blanket subpoena in order to weasel out of their illegal activities. Good on this guy for not taking one of the final blows to the shreds of freedom we have left laying down. I hope this goes to the SCOTUS and they make a ruling that doesn't support their fascist masters.
  • Would your opinion on this subpoena change if it was from defense lawyers?
  • Are officers of the court allowed to write subpoenas which effectively ask you to break privacy laws? Or are there any sanctions on them for doing so?

    Up there it has been suggested they could go after the telcoms and that if this had been a corporation they would have been buckled, but IMO with them this subpoena would have been quashed in a flash. The telcoms in particular aren't too happy to just allow government go on fishing expeditions at the moment.
  • by lanner (107308) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:19PM (#22935576)

    Similar to this; []

    The local prosecutors office ordered and conducted the arrest of the newspaper editors for disclosing the fact that they had been requested, through the act of a horrifically crooked grand jury subpoena (which neither the judge nor jury had approved or even seen), to turn over a list of their entire readership and website visitors over a period of years.

    I hope for a similar, if not stronger, reaction.

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