TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida Department of Health data analyst who says a raid on her home by state investigators was payback for speaking out about what she describes were efforts to falsify COVID-19 figures is demanding that they return seized computer equipment and cell phones.
Rebekah Jones said in a court filing on Wednesday that what the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is accusing her of doing isn't a crime, according to the Miami Herald.
Jones hasn't been charged with a crime, but state investigators raided her house earlier this month, saying in a search warrant that they had probable cause to believe Jones was behind an anonymous message sent on Nov. 10 to Jones’ former colleagues at the Florida Department of Health using the emergency operations ReadyOps system.
The message read: “It’s time, to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know, this is wrong. You don’t have to be part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late.”
Jones denies writing the message.
Since the raid, evidence has emerged that the username and password to the private email system was posted in at least seven pdf files that were widely available on the Internet to anyone who had the address, according to the Herald.
Bennett Cyphers, a technology expert with the the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, said in Jones' court filing Wednesday that the FDLE failed to provide “sufficient evidence” linking the IP address of the unauthorized message to Jones’ home.
An IP address “cannot be used to identify a particular device or person,” since IP addresses used by one customer in one week “may be used by a different customer next week,” Cyphers said.
Jones helped develop the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, but she was later fired for insubordination and has since publicly questioned the accuracy of the data.