TSA v Chris Elliott and Steve Frischling

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Date: 

12/29/2009

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Florida, Connecticut

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
On December 29, 2009, agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) interrogated and served subpoenas on two travel bloggers who had posted a TSA security directive put in place after the failed Christmas day "underwear bomber" attempt. The two bloggers, Steven Frischling... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Chris Elliott; Steve Frischling

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Location of Party: 

  • District of Columbia

Location of Party: 

  • Florida
  • Connecticut

Legal Counsel: 

Anthony N. Elia - The Law Office of Anthony N. Elia (for Elliott); Electronic Frontier Foundation (for Elliott); Mark Holsher, Francis DiScala, Jr.
Description

On December 29, 2009, agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) interrogated and served subpoenas on two travel bloggers who had posted a TSA security directive put in place after the failed Christmas day "underwear bomber" attempt. The two bloggers, Steven Frischling and Chris Elliott, posted the text of the directive on December 27 after confusion arose over air travel procedures and restrictions in the wake of the failed terrorist attack.

Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer who publishes a blog for KLM Airlines and Flying With Fish, complied with the subpoena, in part because he did not know the identity of the source, there is no federal shield law to protect him, and he felt that he could lessen the ordeal by cooperating. According to Wired, agents went through his phone contacts and determined it was necessary to take an image of his hard drive. In the process of trying to copy files, agents damaged Frischling’s laptop. With Frischling’s permission, they seized the computer, departed, and later returned it.

Elliott, who publishes the blog Elliott and writes a column for the Washington Post and MSNBC, refused to divulge his source and retained counsel. The TSA then backed off and ultimately withdrew the subpoena on December 31.

That same day, the TSA notified Frischling that it was withdrawing the subpoena.  It is not clear whether the agency will compensate Frischling for damaging his laptop. 

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Subject Area: 

  • Shield Laws
  • Subpoenas
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Florida
  • Connecticut

Source of Law: 

  • United States