Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he was “concerned” about the NYPD’s sprawling use of questionable administrative subpoenas after a Post investigation found the department used the little-known tool tens of thousands of times without oversight to bully companies into releasing the personal data of both cops and civilians.
“I’m concerned on this issue, for sure, and I’m going to look into it right away… the particular issue of freedom of the press calls out to me here,” the mayor said at a press conference.
The comments came a day after The Post revealed the NYPD had issued nearly 218,000 administrative subpoenas in both internal and criminal investigations to target officers and private citizens, including two journalists.
The department was granted the subpoena power nearly a century ago by the New York City Council to force officers to testify and produce documents in internal trials — instead of requiring a judge or grand jury sign-off.
But the NYPD quietly expanded the questionable tactic over the years, sending the intimidating requests to phone companies, banks, Internet service providers and social media giants.
While it was unclear if the NYPD has any legal jurisdiction to send subpoenas outside the department, at least two major phone carriers hand the information over without question due to the trumped-up language in the requests, including a reference to The Patriot Act, telecom sources said.
A police spokesman said the anti-terror law language was removed after The Post reported on the existence of the questionable tactic earlier this year when the department targeted the Twitter data of the publication’s police bureau chief.
“Those investigations are really important… but, freedom of the press is sacred in this country, as it should be and we got to make sure that they’re on the right guardrails there,” de Blasio said. “So, I’m going to get briefed on this I’ll have more to say on it soon but I take it very seriously as a concern, and I’ve got to make sure we are striking the right balance.”
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