This is bone chilling:
There is no better way to get a blogger talking than by telling him what he cannot publish — although you might forgive a government prosecutor for thinking otherwise.
A grand jury subpoena sent by prosecutors in the Bronx earlier this year sought information to help identify people blogging anonymously on a Web site about New York politics called Room 8.
The subpoena carried a warning in capital letters that disclosing its very existence “could impede the investigation being conducted and thereby interfere with law enforcement” — implying that if the bloggers blabbed, they could be prosecuted.
“We were totally perplexed,” said Ben Smith, who co-founded Room 8 with Gur Tsabar. (The site calls itself an “imaginary neighbor” to the press room — Room 9 — in City Hall in New York.) The two promptly began looking for a lawyer. “We knew enough to be scared.”
This, of course, is a blogger’s nightmare: enforced silence and the prospect of jail time. The district attorney eventually withdrew the subpoena and lifted the gag requirement after the bloggers threatened to sue. But the fact that the tactic was used at all raised alarm bells for some free speech advocates.
The demand for secrecy raised the unnerving prospect that prosecutors could quietly investigate anyone who posts comments online, while the person making those comments is unaware of and unable to respond to the risk. The tactic also robs bloggers of one of their most powerful weapons: the chance to spread the word and turn the legal attack into an online cause célèbre.
Some comments here: If some prosecutor walked into the newsroom of the Washington Post and served a subpoena, there would be a lot more of an uproar, endless news coverage, and demands for answers from the district attorney. Absent all of that all happening– or any of it for that matter— one would hope that the blogging community would pry some more into this.