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In Massachusetts, a series of incendiary comments on local newspaper websites led government officials to subpoena the paper for the identities of the commenters. The papers’ owner, GateHouse Media, has complied, but some, like Jeff Hermes at the Digital Media Law Project, remain concerned about a violation of the commenters’ right to privacy:

As Andy Sellars has written previously for the DMLP blog, the willingness of intermediaries to stand up for the rights of their users is the lynchpin and weakest link in freedom of speech online. If GateHouse did notify its users about the subpoenas, the users would at least have been afforded a chance to assert their rights. Nevertheless, GateHouse’s privacy policy does not guarantee that it will provide notice of a subpoena, leaving its users’ First Amendment rights a matter of the company’s discretion.

— Caroline O'Donovan
                                   
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Mark Coddington    April 11, 2014
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