Cory Doctorow investigated by FBI

One would imagine the FBI was currently busy investigating the Boogaloo Boys—unless they’ve been instructed to find miscreants on “both sides” and people like Cory are all they can come up with


I feel like the difference between investigated and interviewed is pretty big bit maybe that’s not as headline grabbing.


If someone is being called by the FBI over something they have written or done it’s an almost certainty that the agent has already done an investigation. It might not be the 30 agents spending 5 years building a complex case against a target that you see on TV and movies (what reality is every like the movies), but how ever much investigation is done goes into a file and know that person is a ‘known person’ to the FBI. That file, even closed, can be a problem later if you ever need to get a background check for a job, or when crossing a border, or any number of other things where stupidly paranoid people can over react.


there’s a revealing ( ouch ) interview about this.

basically, ever since the oklahoma city bombing in 1995 rep. bennie thompson has been trying to get congress to review the fbi’s investigation into white supremacist groups and has often been blocked by republicans and or the fbi.

and there’s stuff like this:

Stan Alcorn: in 2017 an FBI document leaked about something they called Black identity extremists, violence “in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society, in particular, police brutality.” … This was a scandal, and the FBI said it got rid of the Black identity extremist category. But in 2019, more FBI documents were leaked and the FBI had taken the Black identity extremists and the white supremacists and put them both in one combined category, racially motivated violent extremism.

thompson got a measure in the 2020 defense authorization bill* to force the fbi to report how they’re allocating resources for these but its now six months overdue. and the fbi probably won’t ever do it unless people in the biden administration make it happen.

(* in the interview he said “it’s what you call a little home cooking.” :slightly_smiling_face: )


But I’m mystified by the complaint – my guess is some troll has figured out that you can sic the FBI on people you disagree with on the internet – and even more by the fact that the FBI acted on it.

They must have the discretion to decide when a complaint rises to the level of using a special agent’s time and when it should go in the kook folder. Seems to me that filing complaints about my post in the kook folder should have been a no-brainer.

That’s the surprising thing here, that they put an agent on this when any reasonable person would disregard such a complaint as trolling after 30 seconds of reading the blog post. I’m just reminded of the many times Cory has talked about his ancestors escaping brutal authoritarian regimes and the reasons he himself choosing to leave the UK because of the authoritarian place he saw it was becoming (he ain’t wrong). So i hope he can get this file purged after a FOIA request.


Agreed, and I’m comforted to hear that Cory is specifically investigating using FOIA and the like to find out what those files contain and what rights, if any, he has in getting them expunged.


it seems naive to think we can ever get an authority to truly “forget about us”

an expunged record will just be a file with an extra document in it saying “this file has been expunged”


Right? There have been people watching this this shit for decades now… Law enforcement should have been taken this seriously from the 90s, but alas.


Can confirm, it is not free.

My business partner and I had to contact EFF to get a list of Austin, Texas lawyers who know Section 230 well. We were sent a letter from a lawyer representing someone who has several complaints against us. I can’t say more because we are still in the process of defending ourselves.

Long story short, if you turn to EFF for legal help, they can provide a list of lawyers who are EFF-friendly but lordy not a single lawyer we talked with is “free” or ready to have taken us on pro bono.

That said, EFF cut our research time down by quite a bit, when we were looking for legal representation. Getting representation is a process and it takes time, precious precious time, to get started.

Full disclosure: we became EFF members out of gratitude for their helpful list, and because we believe in EFF’s mission, even if we can’t afford a membership every year.

ETA: typo


Right there with ya, man, right there with ya.

Have also had to deal with [hosted] clients who have gotten death-threatened in the comments sections of their Wordpress sites.



Cory Doctorow is rad, the FBI hassling you for educating the public is historically a sign your work is significant. Give big brother what for if they infringe your rights buddy and don’t let the man get you down.


If you are disciplined enough to plead the fifth, I think that can be a reasonable alternative to hiring a lawyer. I was once contacted by the FBI due to a false complaint by someone who didn’t like me. I talked to them on the phone and basically said “the complaint is not true but that’s all I can say without a lawyer, and I’d rather not have to get a lawyer.” They shifted from good cop to bad cop doing the “you sound like someone who has something to hide” routine but I stuck to not answering their questions and never heard from them again.

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That’s… not a great idea. Never talking to the cops is great, but you should always find a way to get a lawyer involved in cases like this.


That’s an awful idea.

Pleading the fifth is literally saying, “I’m guilty of a crime, but I don’t have to incriminate myself for you. You have to earn it.” It’s not a good thing to pull in the investigative side of things because of the implication. If you AREN’T guilty of it, (or something connected to / related to ) it, you’re not allowed to plead the fifth. It’s not for truly innocent people.


What you’re talking about isn’t 5A, it’s Miranda rights. You don’t have to answer questions from police or investigators. 5A applies in court, where you can otherwise be compelled to answer questions posed by prosecutors.


He’s the best


Well the degree to which it can cause trouble is unlikely unless he gets on a watch list. CBP agents at ports if entry don’t, as a matter of practice, get access to internal FBI files.

I still stand by the choice of words as intentionally misleading and skewing, much in the same way when BB talks about NSA ‘operatives’ instead of the more banal ‘analysts’.

I’m calling the FBI right now!


So you can get investigated for posting content about Amazon and unions but you don’t if you threaten folks online (had folks threaten me many times online for even just a bad joke on my part)? This is some weird stuff. Seriously, whomever is running the case load at the FBI they need to be replaced or retrained or something. It’s clear they’re wasting valuable time and money on frivolous stuff like this. And as much as I don’t like cops of any stripe, I’d like them to at least you know deal with legitimate cases like human trafficking, not playing pseudo-SLAPP on a blogger/writer.


nor shall any person be … compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself

There is nothing there about guilt or innocence, the 5A is absolutely for innocent people. It was created for innocent people. It was common practice of the day for many governments to force confessions, even from innocent people.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that asserting 5th amendment rights may not be taken as an indication of guilt, and yes, law enforcement has generally ignored this and taken that anyone not willing to talk to them is guilty of something, but that is not what the law actually is.