After auditing the Twitter account of Ronald Bernard Hickey (at TawasiSoce) we have not been able to find any evidence that he violated 18 U.S.C. 119 as he appears to be charged with. We say appears because according to the DOJ press release (see source link above article) they do not say which statute he is accused of violating. They just say that he allegedly “knowingly release personal information of these employees in an attempt to threaten, intimidate, or incite violence against them.” 18 U.S.C. 119 is the only statute worded like that (see https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/119). The problem with that argument is that Hickey’s Twitter account (https://twitter.com/TawasiSoce) contains no “restricted personal information” as defined by the statute. 18 U.S.C. 119(b)(1) defines “restricted personal information” as follows:
“(a) the term restricted personal information means, with respect to an individual, the Social Security number, the home address, home phone number, mobile phone number, personal email, or home fax number of, and identifiable to, that individual;” – 18 U.S.C. 119(b)(1)
If you look at the PDF uploaded with this article (click on the big PDF icon above this article) you can see all the screenshots we could find involving Marriott and the federal officers staying there. All he did was post the address and phone number of the hotel before asking people to complain to the hotel. Organizing a peaceful phone call complaint campaign among consumers is not a crime. They have every right to call (503) 226-7600 and ask them not to rent rooms to federal officers. None of that activity falls within the scope of actions prohibited by Section 119. Section 119 only prohibits making publicly available a “home address … home phone number, mobile phone number” the address of the Marriott hotel is not a “home address” and the phone number of the hotel is not a “home phone number” or a “mobile phone number” therefore Hickey did not make “restricted personal information … publicly available.”
Even if the address of a hotel were held to be a temporary “home address” and the hotel phone number was a temporary “home phone number” Hickey did not make that information publicly available. It is a defense to a charge of violation Section 119 that the information was already publicly available. So, if you get “restricted personal information” from a public source, then that source or its source are ones that made the information publicly available. We get that information about those people from public records all the time. We can and do legally post it and we are not be legally considered the ones that made the information publicly available. Public records are made publicly available by the government and one cannot legally be considered as having made publicly available what was already made publicly available by the government. The address and phone number of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Portland are public record. Even if he did not get the info from public records, the hotel itself made that information publicly available by advertising it as much as possible.
Conclusion, unless Hickey posted some restricted personal information that was not already publicly available then he is not guilty.
Published at Thu, 30 Jul 2020 23:31:57 +0000