Just last week, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a grand jury summon to the site Reason.com, demanding them to release the identities of six online users who posted threatening messages against Judge Katherine Forrest after her Silk Road ruling.
The subpoena request, which was first made public by renowned blogger Ken White, lists several troll comments written by these particular commenters.
Whether they were published in jest or with serious intent, the anonymous commenters will have to answer for their actions before a court of law and could face up to 10 yrs. imprisonment if found guilty.
Another one, “Alan”, replied by saying, “It’s judges like these that will be taken out back and shot.”
Yet another troll by the name of “Cloudbuster” chimed in by saying the shooting should not be done out back, but rather out front right on the staircase of the courthouse.
The Silk Road magistrate rubbed a lot of shoulders the wrong way by giving Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht an extremely harsh sentence, despite him pleading for mercy before the verdict was passed.
This extreme Silk Road verdict is what could have triggered the negative backlash against her, considering that many people didn’t think that the dark web site creator, Ross Ulbricht, would be locked away for life.
In their subpoena letter, prosecutors are requesting for specific information from Reason.com including IP addresses, phone numbers, account information, billing information, email addresses and devices that they used to make these statements.
They have cited a section of the U.S. criminal code which states that, “mailing threatening communication” towards a federal judge constitutes to felony and is punishable by a prison sentence determined by the jury.
In a letter signed by State Attorney Sir Preet Bharara and assistant Niketh Velamoor, it commands Reason.com to release the required information with immediate effect in spite of any confidentiality contracts that may have been entered with these troll account holders.
Though, this government directive similar to that of Silk Road was not initially intended to reach the public realm.
Before it came out, lawyer Niketh Velamoor, in another accompanying letter had requested the site owners to voluntarily refrain from disclosing this information to 3rd parties.
It’s quite unlikely that these commenters actually intended real harm on Judge Forrest, so much as the usual “trollish” comments found in many chat forums across the web.
Had they been using both a VPN and anonymous name together, then authorities would never have caught up with them.
This case just goes to show how law enforcers are in full charge of the Internet, and can track down anybody that they want with considerable ease.
The only way to ensure your privacy while browsing through the web is by getting quality protection.
Otherwise, you may be arrested for posting comments which the government deems insensitive even tough that was not your intention in the first place, given that the posing were actually made as a joke and not to be taken in their literal sense.
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