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Associated Press Sues FBI for Impersonation
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After the FBI failed to adequately respond to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Associated Press filed a lawsuit against the agency, hoping to force it to turn over certain documents.

Summary: After the FBI failed to adequately respond to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Associated Press filed a lawsuit against the agency, hoping to force it to turn over certain documents.

Tech Dirt reports that the Associated Press has sued the FBI for impersonating a reporter with a fake story. Last fall, the FBI created the fake story to plant malware during one of their investigations. The current suit is the second time the Associated Press has sued the FBI, according to the Huffington Post.


The revelation was buried within documents that were released after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Chris Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union first noticed the issue.

The documents showed the FBI discussing how to install malware. The malware was called a Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier, or CIPAV, and agents were discussing getting it installed using a fake news story.

The fake story was about a bomb threat at a high school being downplayed by the local police. The FBI later allegedly had an undercover agent pretend to be a reporter and sent the suspect, a 15-year-old high schooler, a rough draft of the article to look over. When the teen opened the email, the malware was launched.

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FBI director James Corney defended the agents’ actions, arguing that it was legal “under Justice Department and FBI guidelines at the time.” Corney added that guidelines have changed, and that impersonation would now require “higher-level approval,” but it is still allowed.

The FBI recently arrested hundreds for Medicare fraud.

Now, the Associated Press has sued the FBI, joined by the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press (RCFP). The RCFP also sued because the FBI did not reveal additional information about the malware after it received a separate FOIA request.

Should the FBI be allowed to take such measures to obtain information?

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Basically, the Associated Press made a FOIA request for documents related to the above story. It also sought “an accounting of the number of times” the FBI “has impersonated media organizations or generated media-style material” to plant malware. The FBI responded that it was working on a response to the request, and then apparently told the Associated Press that the request had been “closed administratively” because it was joining someone else’s FOIA request, which baffled the Associated Press. The Associated Press had no idea who else made such a request.

The FBI investigated Sheldon Silver for law firm donations.

The Associated Press asked for more information, and was then told “the estimated completion time for large requests is 649 days.” The FBI also would not tell the Associated Press who made the other FOIA request. At that point, the Associated Press filed a formal appeal, and was told a week ago that there was no decision to appeal because the request had not been completed. However, the request that had not been completed was not the request that the Associated Press sent in. At that point, the lawsuit was filed.

Last year, the FBI asked Congress to rewrite search warrant rules.

The FOIA request that the RCFP sent received a boilerplate “no responsive records” response, and the RCFP pointed out that the FBI was lying, since it had previously said it was a large request.

Now, the FBI has been sued by both entities in an attempt to have the agency turn over the information. Of course, many think that the FBI still will not respond, or will redact a significant amount of information and cite national security reasons for doing so.

You can check out the lawsuit for yourself at this link.

Source: Tech Dirt

Photo credit: Tech Dirt



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