Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cochise County issues subpoena for journalist's private emails

If you think your emails are private, guess again.  They're subject to subpoena.  Even messages you thought you deleted aren't safe from government snooping.  A prosecutor, or any lawyer, could issue a subpoena to your email service provider, get your private communications, and you might not even find out about it.

When it happens to journalists, it's more than just a nuisance or potential embarassment.  It could put a chilling effect on the reporter's ability to gather the news for the public.  That is why, when the Obama administration went after Associated Press reporter phone records in 2013, the story made national news--and AP raised hell about it.

But it also goes on from time to time in local news markets, where journalists have a harder time fighting back.  And now it's happened to David Morgan, a well known Cochise County, Arizona, journalist who publishes the Cochise County Record and has made a name for himself prying into the workings of local government.  County prosecutors sent a subpoena to Google asking for all emails between him and a certain individual, including any that had been deleted.  Google didn't tell him until weeks after the fact and he still doesn't know what Google will do or has done.

Below is my interview with him on this subject.

BTW, here is an update that came in after the show:  Google issued a statement saying that they couldn't discuss the case, but saying they have a track record of advocating for their clients.  My question about whether Google typically discusses its subpoena responses with the client did not get an answer.  The Cochise County Attorney's office did not return my call.

©2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment