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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Wants to Know What Websites You've Visited

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If, that is, you've ever read the Phoenix New Times online. The alternative weekly has run several articles over the years critical of the so-called "toughest sheriff in America." But when an investigative piece on a series of questionable Arpaio real estate transactions included the sheriff's home address (possibly violating state law), Arpaio launched an incredibly broad, wide-reaching investigation that looks an awfully lot like retaliation.

Last August, the grand jury investigating the case issued a sweeping, probably unconstitutional subpoena demanding that in addition to reporter notes, drafts or articles, and internal memos, the New Times also turn over:

A) which pages visitors access or visit on the Phoenix New Times website;

B) the total number of visitors to the Phoenix New Times website;

C) information obtained from 'cookies,' including, but not limited to, authentication, tracking, and maintaining specific information about users (site preferences, contents of electronic shopping carts, etc.);

D) the Internet Protocol address of anyone that accesses the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;

E) the domain name of anyone that has accessed the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;

F) the website a user visited prior to coming to the Phoenix New Times website;

G) the date and time of a visit by a user to the Phoenix New Times website;

H) the type of browser used by each visitor (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Netscape Navigator, Firefox, etc.) to the Phoenix New Times website; and

I) the type of operating system used by each visitor to the Phoenix New Times website."

After the special prosecutor in the case attempted to arrange a possibly-illegal ex-parte meeting with the grand jury and the judge, the New Times decided to publish the contents of the grand jury subpeona (pdf), explaining at the time that doing so may well get the paper's editors arrested.

It did. Arpaio had the paper's executive editor and CEO arrested last night.

My favorite New Times article on Arpaio and his deputies here.