In what advocates are calling a victory for press freedom, the
U.S. government last Wednesday dropped an April 21st court order
demanding that Seattle's Independent Media Center
hand over its server logs of users who may have viewed Quebec
police documents relating to global justice demonstrations.
The order had claimed that two documents, stolen from a police car during the April 20-22 demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas, had been posted online to the IMC's Montreal site and circulated throughout the IMC network. The documents allegedly contained information about various protest groups and details of George W. Bush's travel itinerary. Bush was in Quebec for the trade talks. The court order sought the unique IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of every visitor to the IMC's Web sites on April 20 and 21--over 1.25 million in all--to aid a Canadian investigation into the theft of the documents.
IMC volunteers and legal observers decried the order as a heavy-handed government attempt to intimidate activists and quash independent coverage of the protests. 'This kind of fishing expedition is another in a long line of overbroad and onerous attempts to chill political speech and activism,' said IMC attorney Lee Tien, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 'Back in 1956, Alabama tried to force the NAACP to give up its membership lists -- but the Supreme Court stopped them.' Tien and others hailed the government's move as an important victory for press freedom.
? Seattle IMC Press Release
? IMC vs. FBI
? Copy of Government Order