Privacy Law

Lawyer-turned-blogger broke the story on collection of cellphone data; will he be prosecuted?


Glenn Greenwald. (Photo
from Glenn Greenwald.)

The journalist who broke the story on secret U.S. collection of cellphone data is Glenn Greenwald, a former lawyer at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Greenwald wrote his story for the Guardian and allowed the publication to edit it, though he usually publishes without an editor, the New York Times reports. He launched his blog Unclaimed Territory, later picked up by Salon, after working at Wachtell then at Greenwald Christoph. At the smaller firm, he handled First Amendment and other constitutional cases, and once represented white supremacist Matt Hale in a trademark dispute over the name World Church of the Creator.

“Greenwald’s done what so many bloggers and unhappy lawyers dream about—he made the leap from full-time law practice to full-time blogging,” the ABA Journal wrote in a story profiling seven lawyer bloggers.

As a blogger and journalist, Greenwald has focused on national security and First Amendment matters. Will he become part of the story as a result of a leak prosecution? The Times raises the issue. “After writing intensely, even obsessively, for years about government surveillance and the prosecution of journalists,” the newspaper says, “Glenn Greenwald has suddenly put himself directly at the intersection of those two issues, and perhaps in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors.”

Greenwald tells the Times he expects the U.S. to react “extremely” to his revelations about the National Security Agency, “the crown jewel in government secrecy.” Lawyer friends told him he should be worried, Greenwald said, but “what I am doing is exactly what the Constitution is about and I am not worried about it.”

He has taken security precautions, using encrypted instant chat and email programs. He works from a computer in Brazil, where he lives with his partner.

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