Florida Takes Flak Over Controversial Home Raid

Lawyer resigns over raid on residence of data scientist
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2020 1:52 PM CST
Florida Takes Flak Over Raid on Scientist's Home
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference on Nov. 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla.   (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Florida is facing backlash over its raid of a data scientist's home. In the biggest public criticism, a Republican lawyer appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to nominate judges resigned in protest, reports the Washington Post. The raid on the home of Rebekah Jones made no legal sense, Ron Filipkowski tells the newspaper. "It’s about intimidation of her and sending a message to people currently working in state government that, ‘This could be you.'" What's more, the legal rationale for the raid is, in the words of the Verge, "looking a little shaky." Jones is a former state scientist who helped run Florida's public pandemic database before being fired earlier this year. She accused state officials of pressuring her to present inaccurately positive COVID data. After her firing, she created her own coronavirus tracking dashboard.

The state justified the raid by accusing Jones of accessing an emergency communication system and imploring employees to speak out against the state Department of Health's pandemic response. Investigators say they traced an IP address used to send the message to her Tallahassee home. Jones, who hasn't been charged, denies sending the message. "I'm not a hacker," she tells CNN, adding that the message itself isn't in her writing style. The Nov. 10 missive was sent to 1,750 people on a contact list for one of 18 groups of state emergency-response personnel, per Ars Technica. But the system isn't exactly protected by a fortress of security. As the outlet notes, "all state employees with access to that system share a single username and password" that is publicly available on the DOH's website, along with the group's email address. (More Florida stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.