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Free Expression, Government Surveillance

CDT Joins Free Expression and Civil Liberties Orgs Calling for Greater Transparency About FBI Raid to Avoid Chilling Lawful Reporting

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) signed on to a coalition letter – alongside broadcasters, press freedom organizations, and civil liberties organizations – calling on the Justice Department to make public information about its role in the raid on freelance journalist Tim Burke’s home and how Justice officials believe he broke the law.

To avoid chilling lawful reporting, it is particularly important for the DOJ to be transparent about its investigation of Burke and the circumstances under which it considers online newsgathering to run afoul of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act or other federal laws.

Accordingly, the letter asks that the DOJ publicly respond to the questions listed in the conclusion of the letter and provide clarity regarding what it considers to be protected journalism and newsgathering.

From the letter:

There is significant public interest in Burke’s case. That interest is compounded by the nationwide outrage following the August police raid of the Marion County Record based on allegations of computer crimes by its reporters. Given these and other investigations, journalists around the country are left uncertain about whether they could be prosecuted for acts of routine journalism on the mistaken grounds that they violated state or federal computer crime laws. The government’s opposition to requests to unseal the probable cause affidavit submitted in connection with the warrant application, even if justified, leaves journalists unable to discern whether newsgathering activities they previously considered routine might trigger an investigation.

Read the full letter + list of signatories here.