A prosecutor in Renton, Washington wants to send an anonymous Internet cartoonist to jail for embarrassing the police department.
In documents obtained by KIRO 7, prosecutors asked the King County Superior Court to issue a warrant forcing Google to turn over the true identity of cartoonist known as MrFiddlesticks.
One video even seems to address the prosecutor’s obsession with the cartoonist.
“Is there any reason why an anonymous video, with no identifying information that ties it to the department or city is being taken more seriously than officers having sex on duty, arguing with outside agencies while in a drunken stupor off duty, sleeping while on duty, throwing someone off a bridge, and having inappropriate relationships with coworkers and committing adultery?” a cartoon officer asked.
“The reason is that internal dirt is internal,” a cartoon bureaucrat replied. “The department will crucify certain people and take care of others.”
City prosecutors are basing their case on a broad cyberstalking law that makes it a crime to “harass,… torment, or embarrass” a person with “any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words, images, or language.”
“The cyberstalking angle doesn’t pass the laugh test,” cyber-law expert Venkat Balasubramani told KIRO 7′s Chris Halsne. “It’s a serious stretch and I’d be surprised if somebody looked at it and realistically thought these acts actually fit the statute and we could make somebody criminally liable.”
“I think they were trying to get at the speaker and they looked around for a statute that shoehorned their conduct into and sent that to Google and said ‘turn over the information.’”
The City Attorney’s office and Renton police department did not respond to questions from Halsne.
Watch this video from KIRO 7, broadcast Aug. 3, 2011.