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We think you should be aware that the Secret Service contacted us today. [View All]

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Skinner ADMIN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-26-06 02:43 PM
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We think you should be aware that the Secret Service contacted us today.
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Edited on Fri Oct-27-06 03:21 PM by Skinner
In the five-plus years since Democratic Underground was started, we have had legal issues arise on a fairly regular basis. When that happens, we almost never make any sort of public comment about it, mostly because we think giving would-be legal adversaries any unearned publicity would only encourage them. But an issue has come up this week which we feel we should probably share with you, because we think you should know what we are doing to protect your personal information.

As you are probably aware, the Democratic Underground detailed rules include this short passage:
Do not post messages that could be construed as advocating harm or death to the president or other high-ranking official in the United States government. In the case of the president, do not even post jokes, as the Secret Service is not known for its sense of humor.
Fortunately the members of DU are generally level-headed and respectful of the rules, so we have not had any problems with this issue in the past. But today we have had two separate inquiries from the Secret Service about posts on our website.

The inquiries involved three posts by two separate visitors to our website. Incidentally, both of the people in question were banned last week -- before we were aware that the Secret Service was looking into their postings. I'm not going to go into the details of the posts in question, except to say that all three of them would have been covered by the passage from the Democratic Underground rules that I posted above. (One of these posts was deleted by the moderators, two were not.)

The United States Secret Service has asked Democratic Underground to hand over any identifying or personal information we have about the two individuals in question.

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The administrators of Democratic Underground take the privacy of our visitors very seriously. Even though the two people in question had already been banned from our website, we will not hand over any personal information from them or from any of our visitors unless we are legally compelled to do so.

After talking with the Secret Service -- who were polite and professional throughout -- we immediately contacted our lawyer to get his advice (as we always do whenever a legal issue arises). We will continue to consult with him throughout this situation so we can ensure that our rights and your rights are protected. On the advice of our lawyer, we have declined to voluntarily hand over any information about the two individuals in question. That is where matters stand at this point.

The Secret Service has informed us that they intend to get subpoenas in order to compel us to hand over the information. If and when they do, we will consult with our lawyer before we do anything.

Please feel free to post in this thread if you have any questions.

David Allen
Democratic Underground Administrator

ON EDIT: I have posted a clarification of this post here.
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