Government orders website to turn over info on anonymous commenters

Department of Justice
(Image credit: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

The Justice Department (DOJ) is sticking it to Reason.com, the website of a prominent libertarian magazine by the same name, to reveal information about anonymous commenters who trash-talked the judge involved in the Silk Road case.

In the comments section of a post discussing the trial, a group of angry commenters suggested that the judge be "taken out back and shot" or perhaps put through a woodchipper, Fargo-style. The DOJ subpoenaed Reason for "any and all identifying information" pertaining to the comment authors.

Subject to debate, however, is the question of whether these comments are "true threats" that warrant any DOJ attention. At the Popehat legal blog, Ken White argues that "they are very clearly not true threats — that this is not even a close call," especially given how Reason is known to be marked by both "clever writing" and "the blowhard stupidity of its commenting peanut gallery."

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However this saga turns out, let's just hope the DOJ never discovers YouTube comments.

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