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D.A. seeks names of posters (Slippery Slope alert!)
The Evening Sun (Hanover, Pennsylvania) ^ | February 23, 2009 | RICK LEE

Posted on 02/23/2009 4:23:35 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner

The company that owns and operates the York Daily Record/Sunday News readers' comment posting Web site will release the identities of people who anonymously posted comments to a story about the stabbing death of Andrew Wright, according to sworn statements Friday in county court.

Prosecutor Timothy Barker informed Judge Thomas H. Kelley on Friday that an attorney for Topix LLC said the Internet Protocol addresses and personal information of the posters "has been preserved" and will be turned over when the company is served with a subpoena by the York County District Attorney's Office.

(snip)

Under oath Friday, York County Detective Jeffrey A. Martz told Kelley that Topix's attorney "advised me a subpoena would be sufficient" to obtain the anonymous posters' personal information.

Kelley had scheduled the hearing to allow argument against the release of the posters' identities from any other concerned parties. No one representing Topix, the newspaper or the defendants appeared in court.

Topix is a national news gathering and public forum company based in Palo Alto, Calif. Daily Record/Sunday News readers who post comments on local stories do so under the terms of Topix.

Daily Record/Sunday News managing editor Randy Parker said Friday that all comments posted to the newspaper's stories are on the Topix Web site and "Topix is ultimately responsible for the comments on their site."

According to Topix's Terms of Service, which are available on the Web page where comments are posted, "Please be aware . . . we will release specific personal information about you if required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order."

(Excerpt) Read more at eveningsun.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: da; forum; topix; york
Just a warning to folks who regularly post on local newspaper forums, most of which are run by this Topix outfit. Topix did not even bother to put up a fight to protect its members, and pretty much threw them overboard by not even bothering to show up in court.
1 posted on 02/23/2009 4:23:35 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
Sounds like a direct violation of the Constitution. But then the left could care less about the Constitution.
2 posted on 02/23/2009 4:34:21 AM PST by YOUGOTIT (I will always be a Soldier)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
Being very familiar with the story and the local Topix system let me clarify: The DA is not so much interested in the registered “members” as with the anonymous posters.

In particularly, there was a person with the handle of “Gossipgirl”, IP address supposedly from Williamsport (but as anyone with an ounce of IP knowledge would tell you, that means nothing—only the location of the IP server) who posted a lot of information about possible suspects.

After arrests were made Gossipgirl began to accuse the DA and Police of having arrested the wrong persons.

3 posted on 02/23/2009 4:38:02 AM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini.)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

Sounds like something happened to cause this? And ideas?


4 posted on 02/23/2009 4:38:14 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
Sheesh. The one advantage of online papers vs. printed papers, and they toss it over like it was nothing.

Nothing like dumping on your own customers as a business model.

5 posted on 02/23/2009 4:39:58 AM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
Read the Topix posts here:

http://www.topix.net/forum/source/york-daily-record/TR26UG6K7H8JA49LJ

6 posted on 02/23/2009 4:40:13 AM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini.)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

There is no guarantee of anonymity for anything you do on the Internet. Same with email.

The constitution guarantees your right to free speech, not the right to be able to post things then be totally immune from the fallout from those postings.

If you were standing on the street corner yelling obscenities to everyone who passes you can certainly do that, however you must be willing to bear the response to your speech. The people who posted (and I have not read the article) probably thought they could do so and not ever hear any more about it. They were wrong plus they didn’t read the terms of service.

Everything you do on the Internet is logged somewhere.


7 posted on 02/23/2009 4:44:04 AM PST by msrngtp2002 (Just my opinion.)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
Ah, the parts that were snipped out:

Barker explained that Chief Deputy Prosecutor Chuck Patterson, who was not available for Friday's hearing, believes - from 26 comments by posters to a story on the initial arrests in connection with Wright's Dec. 28 killing inside Jamie's Courtside Sports & Spirits, a Spring Garden Township bar - that some or all might be eyewitnesses.

Kelley had scheduled the hearing to allow argument against the release of the posters' identities from any other concerned parties. No one representing Topix, the newspaper or the defendants appeared in court.

According to Topix's Terms of Service, which are available on the Web page where comments are posted, "Please be aware . . . we will release specific personal information about you if required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order."

While Kelley was not required to make a ruling on the matter, he told Barker, "I think it is appropriate for you to proceed through subpoena duces tecum (a subpoena ordering the production of records)."

8 posted on 02/23/2009 4:45:05 AM PST by Netizen
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To: lightman

Once we got the ‘Rest of the Story’, it seems quite reasonable to me.


9 posted on 02/23/2009 4:48:20 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

What exactly do they think is “probable cause”? Did the postings actually contain potential evidence?


10 posted on 02/23/2009 4:53:36 AM PST by TommyDale (I) (Never forget the Republicans who voted for illegal immigrant amnesty in 2007!)
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To: lightman

Are the comments that are posted in reference to the knowlege of a crime that was committed and being tried in court? If that’s the case then this act of commenting opens the poster to be investigated. Right?


11 posted on 02/23/2009 4:54:48 AM PST by classified
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To: Netizen
They had to be snipped out to fit into FR's 300 word limit for excerpts. I never like to post entire articles because of potential copyright concerns. Nothing sinister.

The point being though, and this particular criminal case aside, just be careful with Topix, which would apparently out its forum posters for lesser reason if push came to shove with the government.

12 posted on 02/23/2009 4:56:58 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (Sarah Palin is a smart missile aimed at the heart of the left!)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

No, you snipped out important information so you could cause paranoia.


13 posted on 02/23/2009 5:09:56 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

I will no longer post on Topix, that much is certain.

Thx for posting.


14 posted on 02/23/2009 5:11:53 AM PST by Red in Blue PA (If guns cause crime, then all of mine are defective.)
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To: Netizen

Geez. THat is a different matter altogether now.


15 posted on 02/23/2009 5:12:52 AM PST by Red in Blue PA (If guns cause crime, then all of mine are defective.)
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To: Red in Blue PA
Geez. THat is a different matter altogether now.

Exactly! Snipping out the most important parts of the article is reprehensible. i would dare say that if a FReeper committed or witnessed a murder and talked about it on FR, that FR would get a subpoena, too.

16 posted on 02/23/2009 5:17:44 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

If someone sends an anonymous snail mail letter to a newspaper with statements indicating the writer has evidence with regard to the crime, the police will (rightly) subpoena that letter to see if there are fingerprints or other physical evidence that might help them solve the case.

I think the analogy is pretty good here.

Some seem to think a communication via the interwebs gives additional constitutional rights as compared to older technologies. This is untrue.

Another example: We all accept fingerprinting, and the filing of the prints for all time, without batting an eye. It’s difficult to see, therefore, why DNA testing is proclaimed by some to be a violation of rights. DNA is just another way of using unique physical characteristics to establish identity. (As genetic knowledge advances, obviously DNA could be misused to determine other irrelevant facts about a person, but that’s a separate issue from its use for identification.)


17 posted on 02/23/2009 5:22:46 AM PST by Sherman Logan (Everyone has a right to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.)
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To: Netizen

“if a FReeper committed or witnessed a murder and talked about it on FR, that FR would get a subpoena, too”

No doubt about that!


18 posted on 02/23/2009 5:23:31 AM PST by Red in Blue PA (If guns cause crime, then all of mine are defective.)
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To: Red in Blue PA

I went back to the source link and see that there are two ‘comments’, the first one being about how if Topix folded to quickly, then they were outta there. Sheesh. What’s the matter with people? If they had been murdered and their killer was commenting online or witnesses that could put the perp behind bars were commenting online, would you think they would want the perp caught? The stupidity of some people just boggles the mind.


19 posted on 02/23/2009 5:30:46 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
This is definitely in the top ten of Worst Excerpts Ever. You didn't think this was relevant? Oh right, that's exactly where you skipped over.

Barker explained that Chief Deputy Prosecutor Chuck Patterson, who was not available for Friday's hearing, believes - from 26 comments by posters to a story on the initial arrests in connection with Wright's Dec. 28 killing inside Jamie's Courtside Sports & Spirits, a Spring Garden Township bar - that some or all might be eyewitnesses.

Oh whose behalf are you trolling for?

20 posted on 02/23/2009 6:45:40 AM PST by jiggyboy (Ten per cent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

You do understand that a subpoena is a valid court process? Individuals have always been compelled to come before the court when summoned by a subpoena. You do not have a First Amendment right to hide behind an ISP if you were an eyewitness to a crime. Nor do you have a First Amendment right to defame or libel other individuals from an ISP.


21 posted on 02/23/2009 6:47:37 AM PST by freedomwarrior998
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To: Netizen

BS!


22 posted on 02/23/2009 7:12:20 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (Sarah Palin is a smart missile aimed at the heart of the left!)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

That’s EXACTLY what I said, when I read your pathetic excuse!


23 posted on 02/23/2009 7:14:22 AM PST by Netizen
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To: jiggyboy
Oh whose behalf are you trolling for?

Get a grip! If was trolling for anyone, I would have never posted the story period. The point of the post is DO NOT TRUST Topix if you post there, period, the criminal investigation notwithstanding, since their stated policy now is to buckle under whenever confronted with authority, no matter the circumstances.

If you can't see the danger in that, then by all means, post on.

24 posted on 02/23/2009 7:17:00 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (Sarah Palin is a smart missile aimed at the heart of the left!)
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To: Netizen

BS!


25 posted on 02/23/2009 7:17:16 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (Sarah Palin is a smart missile aimed at the heart of the left!)
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
If was trolling for anyone, I would have never posted the story period.

That's the problem. You didn't post the 'story'. You posted snippets that fit your paranoia agenda.

The point of the post is DO NOT TRUST Topix if you post there, period, the criminal investigation notwithstanding, since their stated policy now is to buckle under whenever confronted with authority, no matter the circumstances.

What a liar you are.

According to Topix's Terms of Service, which are available on the Web page where comments are posted, "Please be aware . . . we will release specific personal information about you if required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute, or court order."

26 posted on 02/23/2009 7:21:05 AM PST by Netizen
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To: YOUGOTIT
Someone with knowledge of a murder has a constitutional right to anonymously gossip about it? Must be one of those penumbra rights.
27 posted on 02/23/2009 7:21:38 AM PST by Mr. Lucky
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To: Netizen; Admin Moderator
What a liar you are.

Resorting to name calling I see because you don't like my post.

Naughty, naughty!

28 posted on 02/23/2009 7:23:10 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (Sarah Palin is a smart missile aimed at the heart of the left!)
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To: freedomwarrior998

Not only that but they don’t seem to be able to understand the word ‘if’.


29 posted on 02/23/2009 7:23:44 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner
Thank you! I didn't want to have to ping the mod and now they can read the thread and see how you deliberately avoided posting facts from the article so you could put forth your agenda of paranoia. From other posters in the thread, I am not alone in seeing through you.

Calling someone a liar, when they ARE a liar is not name calling, it is stating a fact.

30 posted on 02/23/2009 7:27:22 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

“slippery slope alert!”


31 posted on 02/23/2009 7:30:30 AM PST by jiggyboy (Ten per cent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: classified
Are the comments that are posted in reference to the knowlege of a crime that was committed and being tried in court? If that’s the case then this act of commenting opens the poster to be investigated. Right?

Right on all counts. Proceedings have not yet reached the preliminary hearing stage, the subpeona is in preparation for the hearing.

32 posted on 02/23/2009 7:52:45 AM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini.)
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To: msrngtp2002

When the “Thought Police” start searching for “unlawful thoughts” on FR in order to find “counterrevolutionists” for re-education camps or elimination, will we be protected by our pseudonyms? Naw, never happen here!


33 posted on 02/23/2009 10:27:39 AM PST by Hiddigeigei (quem deus vult perdere prius dementat)
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To: Mr. Lucky

Problem is that those probably know nothing about a murder. They are just placing their thoughts on a log. Problem is that the anti-American left is in a position where they can put you in jail if you do not say what they want you to say. Jail and torture and payment of no jail time is used by the black robed left and persecutors to get the lies that they need to go to court and the jury is never told that the person telling the lies was paid or tortured so they would say what the persecutors want them to say. If one does not testify then one is placed in jail (which is torture and in direct violation of the Constitution).


34 posted on 02/23/2009 10:58:17 AM PST by YOUGOTIT (I will always be a Soldier)
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To: lightman
Proceedings have not yet reached the preliminary hearing stage, the subpeona is in preparation for the hearing.

Are you from the area and following the case?

35 posted on 02/23/2009 2:51:49 PM PST by Netizen
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To: Netizen

Yes to both.


36 posted on 02/23/2009 5:39:50 PM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini.)
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To: lightman

Cool, as things progress, could you keep us updated?


37 posted on 02/23/2009 7:21:09 PM PST by Netizen
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner; Netizen

UPDATE

http://ydr.inyork.com/ci_11785992

Topix: No decision on releasing posters’ info
The York County D.A. wants information on possible eyewitnesses.

By RICK LEE

Daily Record/Sunday News
Posted: 02/25/2009 09:28:10 PM EST

Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, said he has not decided whether his company will release information on the people who posted comments on a York Daily Record/Sunday News story about a fatal stabbing in Spring Garden Township.

Topix is contracted by the newspaper to operate the comment-posting feature at the bottom of news articles. Topix allows users to post comments anonymously.

The York County District Attorney’s Office is hoping the information it seeks from Topix will lead to witnesses of the stabbing death of Andrew Wright. The 22-year-old was killed inside Jamie’s Courtside Sports & Spirits on Dec. 28. Three men have been arrested.

At a hearing Friday in York County Common Pleas Court, Detective Jeffrey Martz testified under oath that he had spoken to an attorney for Topix and was assured the company would comply with a subpoena requesting the information. After an article on the court testimony was published, Tolles said, people started asking about the company.

“People are upset that we would give up the anonymous identities of people to court. The public perception is that we already have,” Tolles said Wednesday.

“I’ve taken a hit for this before I’ve even made my decision.”

In interviews Tuesday and Wednesday, Tolles stated repeatedly that, “No one is authorized to say what I will do.” He also said “it is premature to say that we are cooperating with the court. You cannot say I will do something until I say I will.

“My attorney does not speak for me. My lawyer does not have the nuanced understanding of what I do.”

Those statements came as a surprise to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Chuck Patterson, who is handling the homicide case, and prosecutor Timothy Barker, who put Martz on the witness stand in front of Judge Thomas H. Kelley on Friday.

Martz told Kelley that Philip Keating, who he identified as Topix’s Pittsburgh-based attorney, “advised me a subpoena would be sufficient” to obtain the anonymous posters’ Internet Service Providers.

On Wednesday, Patterson, who was not at Friday’s hearing, said he also had spoken to Keating.

“He told me, ‘Unless you hear from me otherwise, I’ll consider your phone call notice,’” Patterson said. “I took that to be there was no opposition unless they notified us that there was.”

Keating did not attend Friday’s hearing, and Tolles said Wednesday he was unaware of the hearing. Tolles also said Keating is now barred from speaking to the media about the ongoing matter.

Tolles initially argued the Daily Record story on Friday’s hearing was factually inaccurate, that sworn testimony in York County had no legal standing with his company and that Martz, by contacting Keating about posters’ information, had “a lack of understanding of the process.”

After speaking with Keating, Tolles said Wednesday the initial story was “not factually incorrect” and that Martz, to the best of Tolles’ knowledge, gave fair and honest testimony.

However, Tolles still contends that he is not legally bound by Martz’s statement to comply with any subpoena.

After Friday’s hearing, Martz sent a subpoena to the “Custodian of Records of Topix LLC” in Palo Alto, Calif. Tolles said Wednesday he has not yet received the subpoena.

Tolles said that, after he reviews the subpoena, he may or may not comply with the request.

“If he wants to fight it, that is his decision,” Patterson said. “The bottom line is, we have a murder investigation and we are looking for witnesses.”

Patterson said Friday’s hearing was scheduled to allow for any argument from Topix’s attorneys about the request. He said if Keating had expressed any hesitation about complying with a subpoena, the commonwealth would have asked Kelley to issue a court order allowing them to seek the information through a subpoena filed in California court.

“Judge Kelley didn’t issue an order because of Detective Martz’s sworn statement,” Patterson said. “There appeared to be no opposition.

“We can go back to court and get an order to proceed through the California court. We are trying to get any information we can obtain. This is just the first step.”


38 posted on 02/25/2009 8:45:16 PM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini.)
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To: lightman

If they don’t turn over the information, wouldn’t obstruction of justice come into play?


39 posted on 03/01/2009 7:03:00 AM PST by Netizen
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To: Netizen

True, but there are major jurisdictional issues involved...PA District Attorney vs. California dot com company.


40 posted on 03/01/2009 2:03:37 PM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini.)
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