The easiest rationalization is always a ‘criminal investigation’:
WILMINGTON, Del. — Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden’s office wants to force Facebook to identify the creators of an anonymous page that often excoriates Wilmington and New Castle County officials, saying the identities are needed in an ongoing criminal investigation.
The American Civil Liberties Union has intervened on behalf of the owners of the Facebook page, “Peaceful Rioters for Wilmington, Delaware,” seeking in a Superior Court filing to quash Biden’s subpoena.
The 11-month-old Peaceful Rioters page, which shows almost 400 “likes,” includes postings on various issues, including last week’s retirement of Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning and efforts to combat the city’s rampant gun violence.
Most posts are commentary, often caustic, about stories in the media. But a few have included scurrilous accusations involving political figures.
One post quotes from what the page claims was a recording of a sexually charged conversation involving Mayor Dennis Williams, former Mayor James M. Baker and former City Council President Ted Blunt. “PRW agreed not to disclose the recording’s owner because of its original owner’s position in city government,” the October posting said.
A December post made harsh comments and allegations about “the on and off the clock activities” of David Grimaldi, the top aide to New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon, and seeks “any further information” about Grimaldi, promising prospective sources it would “keep all personal information confidential.”
The subpoena by Deputy Attorney General Matthew B. Frawley seeks “the registered owner or other identifying account information” for the Peaceful Rioters page.
ACLU officials said the page’s owner, whom the motion identified as an anonymous “blogger” identified only as “John Doe,” was notified by Facebook about the subpoena, leading him to turn to the civil liberties lawyers this week to block it.
The motion said the subpoena must be quashed unless a Superior Court judge determines it “has reasonably been issued to investigate matters of public peace, safety or justice” and doesn’t violate the blogger’s constitutional rights to free speech and unreasonable search and seizure….