The Seattle Times recently reacted to a report that the FBI used a phony webpage resembling the Seattle Times to put spyware on the computer of a person whom they suspected made bomb threats towards a school in 2007.
Seattle Times editor Kathy Best said in a statement:
“We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect.”
She said: “Not only does that cross a line, it erases it.”
“Our reputation and our ability to do our job as a government watchdog are based on trust. Nothing is more fundamental to that trust than our independence — from law enforcement, from government, from corporations and from all other special interests.The FBI’s actions, taken without our knowledge, traded on our reputation and put it at peril.”
It was the Electronic Frontier Foundation that obtained documents that revealed the FBI had used a phony webpage resembling the Times in order to track the location of the person believed to have made the bomb threat.
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Frank Montoya, Jr, chief of the FBI in Seattle, defended the actions of the bureau told the Times:
“Every effort we made in this investigation had the goal of preventing a tragic event like what happened at Marysville and Seattle Pacific University. We identified a specific subject of an investigation and used a technique that we deemed would be effective in preventing a possible act of violence in a school setting.”
What do you think? Was it appropriate for the FBI to use this phony webpage of the Seattle Times without permission? Or is the Times right that this should have never happened?
Photo credit: Tim Pierce (Flickr)