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The FBI is demanding that USA Today provide the bureau with information on readers who viewed a story about a fatal February shooting in Florida that killed two agents.
The agency is asking the newspaper’s publisher, Gannett, to provide information that includes IP addresses and “telephone or instruments numbers,” including serial numbers, of readers who accessed the story during a 35-minute period after the shooting took place on February 3, according to a subpoena in the case.
The subpoena was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on April 29, but wasn’t made public until late May. Documents in the case were first published by Politico.
A May 28 motion to quash the subpoena filed by Ballard Spahr’s Charles Tobin and Maxwell Mishkin on Gannett’s behalf showed the company fighting the agency on First Amendment grounds, writing, “A government demand for records that would identify specific individuals who read specific expressive materials, like the subpoena at issue here, invades the First Amendment rights of both publisher and reader, and must be quashed accordingly,”
The two agents in the case, Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger, were killed in an exchange of gunfire during an attempt to arrest 55-year-old David Lee Huber, a suspect in a child pornography case. Huber also died in the incident, which means it isn’t clear who the FBI is attempting to locate.
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