The Associated Press
A New Orleans news organization has complied with a court order that it turns over information about online commenters for private review by a federal magistrate.
The material was turned over Thursday. The court order came in the case of Stacey Jackson, the former executive director of New Orleans Affordable Housing. Jackson is accused of taking kickbacks from contractors for the agency.
As part of her defense, she is seeking information on whether federal prosecutors were among those making anonymous comments about her on NOLA.com/The Times Picayune.
The newspaper's lawyer said the paper disagrees with the ruling but submitted the materials while it continues to appeal.
"NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune is committed to the idea that the constitutional rights of Internet users, including the First Amendment right to speak anonymously, should be carefully safeguarded, and that the identity of those who choose to speak anonymously should be revealed only in the most compelling of circumstances," said Lori Mince, a lawyer for the news organization.
Jackson is seeking information on two commenters, "aircheck" and "jammer1954," on the belief that they could be federal prosecutors or investigators.
Magistrate Joseph C. Wilkinson Jr. said in a Thursday order that a preliminary review of the materials did not reveal the identities of the commenters in question. But further review of technical data will take place, which Wilkinson said, will take time.