Saint Petersblog Subpoenaed by Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Peter Schorsch of Saint Petersblog wrote a post asking people not to post online threats on his blog. Schorsch wrote that he was informed about the comment from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. What people are not aware of is that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement subpoenaed Schorsch. The FDLE wanted to find out the ISP of the commenter that posted the alleged threat against Gov. Rick Scott.
I sent Schorsch a set of questions. These are his answers.
When did you receive the subpoena?
SCHORSCH: I have not physically received the subpoena. I was told by an investigator on Wednesday that a subpoena was forthcoming, regardless of whether I willingly provided the information. I assume this is because of some sort of 'chain-of'evidence' requirement.
Do you have the original quote from the commenter?
SCHORSCH: Yes. It was: Wish someone would put a bullet in the fuckers face already!
What law enforcement agencies have contacted you?
SCHORSCH: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Have any members of Rick Scott's office contacted you?
What has been your role in assisting the investigation of the alleged threat made by the commenter?
SCHORSCH: I responded by telephone to the inquiry of the investigator and will determine my course of action once I receive the subpoena.
Have you hired legal representation?
SCHORSCH: I have a lawyer, Paul Phillips, on retainer, who represents me on all matters related to the publication of SaintPetersblog.com. He is monitoring the situation.
Have any law enforcement agencies made legal threats against if you refused to corporate?
When was the comment posted?
SCHORSCH: June 28 at 8:11 p.m.
When were you subpoenaed?
SCHORSCH: I have been told it is on its way immediately.
Anything else you like to add?
SCHORSCH: As much as I may disagree with the politics and policies of Governor Scott, the man is a public servant and deserves a certain modicum of respect. If you don't respect the man, then respect the office.
The Communications Decency Act of 1996 makes clear that no internet service provider or web site owner in responsible for someone else's speech. This seems like an overreach by the FDLE. I have no doubt that the FDLE deals with serious threats against elected officials. I don't condone hate speech against Republican or Democrats. However, that comment is actually mild compared to what I have seen in the blogosphere.
What concerns me is bloggers getting subpoenaed every time someone is posted that offends an elected official. Bloggers are not major media corporations and do not have the financial resources to fight long, drawn out legal battles. Another question is did anyone in Scott's office prompt the FDLE to investigate the comment on Saint Petersblog? That is a question that deserves an answer.