Michael Morisy, co-founder of MuckRock—an online tool that facilitates public records requests under the Freedom of Information Act and publishes the requested documents—uncovered the investigation after seeking FBI files referencing #GamerGate. The FBI responded and told Morisy it could not release the files because they concern a pending investigation.
“The records responsive to your request are law enforcement records; there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to these responsive records, and release of the information in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings,” the FBI response stated.
The response did not include any details of the case, so its not clear how broad or specific the investigation is—only that it pertains, in some way, to GamerGate.
It's not the first time the FBI has taken threats and attacks made online seriously. The agency recently helped establish a law in California making revenge porn illegal and its arrested individuals all over the country for cyberstalking and harassment.
At the height of GamerGate earlier this fall, droves of female gamers and journalists found themselves victim to aggressive online attacks from trolls. Some were driven from their homes in fear of the targeted, personal attacks, which included death and rape threats.
Some people have used GamerGate as an opportunity to spur discussion and seek solutions to make gaming more open and accepting, and the onslaught of attacks has quieted in the past few months. The fact that the FBI appears to be taking the issue seriously, or at least some attack or acts relating to it, is heartening. But for many, including the victims of the threats, there remains an all-too palpable awareness of a deep-seated misogyny permeating the gaming community.