Subpoena for Anonymous Messaging App Records Could Out ‘Unite the Right’ Organizers

Discord, a secure chat application favored by members of the alt-right in the months before the infamous Unite the Right rally, may be forced to reveal the identities of the users that engaged in the participants’ private chats in the ongoing legal battle between Unite the Right protesters and counter-protesters.

The Discord messages were cited in a federal lawsuit brought against the alleged organizers of the Unite the Right rally by counter-protesters who claim they were injured at the event. Attorneys for the plaintiffs have argued that these messages are key to proving that the participants “conspired to plan, promote, and carry out the violent events in Charlottesville.” The attorneys filed a subpoena for Discord, seeking the account information and messages of more than 30 anonymous users, according to the Washington Post.

The subpoena was contested by an anonymous woman, known by her Discord handle ‘Kristall.night,’ who filed suit claiming that the subpoena was a deliberate attempt to ‘out’ her and other protesters as members of the alt-right, making her fear for her own safety. Her attorney, Mark Randazza, argued that exposing her identity would infringe on her First Amendment rights to free speech, but California Magistrate Joseph C. Spiro ruled that determining her identity as a possible co-conspirator or witness was more important than her right to anonymous free speech on the internet.

An agreement was reached where any information that can identify “Kristall.night” will be kept classified as “highly confidential.” Spiro also denied the portion of the subpoena that requested the contents of the Discord messages, because it violated the Stored Communications Act, which deals with disclosing electronic communications data.

[Image via HBO Screengrab]

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