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Gab Targeted by Pennsylvania Attorney General

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-11-08 20:31:13
Digital Liberty

Gab cries foul as Pennsylvania attorney general subpoenas DNS provider [arstechnica.com]

Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro is probing Gab's relationship with its new domain name provider, Epik. A subpoena sent to Epik, dated Wednesday, seeks "any and all documents which are related in any way to Gab." In a statement to Ars, Gab described the investigation as a "baseless, political, and emotionally-driven witch hunt."

[...] Eric Goldman, a legal scholar at Santa Clara University, told us that the law is clear that Gab would not be liable for hosting content from the Pittsburgh shooter. Not only are the posts likely protected by the First Amendment, but a law called Section 230 gives service providers like Gab—not to mention upstream service providers like GoDaddy and Epik—an extra layer of protection against liability for user-submitted content.

So then what is Pennsylvania's attorney general investigating? Shapiro's office hasn't returned emails and a phone call asking about that. But two legal scholars I talked to for this story couldn't think of a legitimate reason for seeking these kinds of documents. "I struggle to see a legit basis for this," said Ken White, a First Amendment attorney and the proprietor of the popular Popehat blog [popehat.com]. Seeking information about Gab's DNS provider "doesn't make any sense at all," legal scholar Eric Goldman told us. In another now-deleted tweet, Gab described the subpoena as a form of harassment. Could this be an attempt to punish Epik for doing business with Gab? Goldman described this as plausible and said that this kind of tactic could raise First Amendment issues. [...] Goldman doubted that an attorney general sending out subpoenas would be enough, on its own, to violate the First Amendment. But if it were part of a broader campaign to discourage providers from doing business with Gab, that could raise significant free speech concerns.

Previously: Social Media and the Pittsburgh Shooter: Gab.com Going Down [soylentnews.org]
Gab's Plan To Use Blockchain To Make Itself Indestructible [soylentnews.org]
Gab is Back [soylentnews.org]


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