An extensive investigation by the Maui Police Department has determined that the use of Google’s search function is more effective than threatening its local newsweekly with legal action.
Last month Maui authorities issued a subpoena demanding that Maui Time give up the IP addresses of its web commenters, ostensibly with the goal of identifying a user by the name of “Federal Reserve,” who commented that Maui police officer Nelson Johnson “needs a bullet when he walks out his door.”
Maui Time publisher Tommy Russo vowed to fight the subpoena, receiving a statement of support from AAN’s Board of Directors and a $1,000 legal contribution from Village Voice Media.
Now comes news that Maui police have identified “a person living on Maui who uses the name ‘Federal Reserve’ on communications to the public,” and have withdrawn the subpoena:
With little fanfare and no apology, County of Maui has withdrawn the subpoena for all IP addresses in a 24-hour period of online commenters for an April Maui Time story. This marks the end of an absurd drama that has been hanging over Maui Time since the county issued the subpoena in late May.
“The Maui Police Department has clearly shown that they’re incompetent, lazy or just a force for harassment,” said Tommy Russo, Maui Time publisher. “The brass at MPD are wrong, and they know it.”
Editor Anthony Pignataro notes, “Using publicly available Internet search engines, this newspaper was able to determine ‘Federal Reserve’ identity in about 0.17 seconds.”