Nev. Newspaper Defends Commenters' Anonymity

Review-Journal , ACLU fight subpoena for commenters' identities
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2009 4:34 PM CDT
The Las Vegas Review-Journal faces a subpoena demanding the identities of people who left anonymous comments on a web article.   (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

(Newser) – A tax-evasion trial has sparked a free-speech controversy at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The paper has declined to honor a federal subpoena demanding the identities of everyone who commented on an article on the trial. Businessman Robert Kahre faces tax-fraud charges for hiding the real value of sales of gold and silver coins, and an article attracted nearly 200 comments—mostly supportive of Kahre, and highly critical of the prosecution.

Such comments, including one that said jurors who rule against Kahre “should be hung (sic) along with the feds,” prompted prosecutors to issue the subpoena out of fear for the jurors’ safety. But the Review-Journal and Nevada ACLU say the subpoena goes too far. Anonymous commentary is “a fundamental and historic part of this country,” said an ACLU rep.