SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, March 7, the San Francisco Police Department announced they voided a search warrant issued to the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, or Indybay, related to an anonymous post on by someone admitting to committing a crime.

After SFPD Chief Bill Scott was made aware of the warrant, he immediately ordered officers to not pursue it over questions about possible First Amendment and Freedom of the Press issues.

The signed warrant was emailed in January 2024 to Indybay, but the SFPD never acted on the warrant or searched the organization. The Police Department also informed Indybay it would not continue to pursue the warrant.

The post in question on was by an anonymous person on a public forum claiming responsibility for felony vandalism of a business. Indybay raised concerns about issues with the Shield Law after receiving the warrant seeking information on the individual who made the post.

“Today, San Francisco Magistrate Judge Linda Colfax reversed herself and vacated a 90-day gag order she had issued on January 24 which prohibited Indybay from disclosing that we were served a search warrant by SFPD. The warrant sought identifying information on the author of a psuedonymous communiqué published on Indybay on January 18. On February 3, the search warrant became void, as no search occurred and no records were received,” reads a statement on the Indybay website.

The San Francisco Police Department noted that they are “committed to supporting the Free Press and has policies and training related to California Evidence Code 1070, also known as the Shield Law, which protects news organizations, journalists, and their confidential sources.”

The unusual circumstance raises questions about the Shield Law and the scope of its protections. The SFPD has no interest in exploring or litigating the issue further.