U.S. government is using Patriot Act to get Twitter to hand over some Wikileaks supporter’s individual account information, private messages, ip addresses etc.
The subpoena itself is an unusual one known as a 2703(d). Recently a federal appeals court ruled this kind of order was insufficient to order the disclosure of the contents of communication. Significantly, however, that ruling is binding in neither Virginia – where the Twitter subpoena was issued – nor San Francisco where Twitter is based. (Wikieleaks demand Google and Facebook Unseal Subpoena)
Twitter was ordered to conceal this from the people
being charged. Actually there are no charges, it’s more like a fishing expedition. Twitter’s policy is to inform their user if there’s a request for information about their account from the government. So Twitter challenged the order (about not informing their users) in court leading to it being revealed to the public. Wikileak believe other U.S. companies are being forced to do the same. Paypal who have canceled Wikileak’s donation account have initially denied U.S. government pressure. But after being heavily criticized and coming under attack from people associated with “Anonymous”, they have confessed that U.S. State department pressured them to do so.
Iceland MP Birgitta Jonsdottir is one of the people whose Twitter account is being targeted by the U.S. government. She have invited Wikileak’s Julian Assange to a party in U.S. Embassy at Reykjavik in 2009, where Assange chatted with the ambassador to Iceland. She championed Modern Media Initiative which is aimed at creating legislation to make Iceland a legal haven for journalists and media outlets.
“It’s not just about my information. It’s a warning for anyone who had anything to do with WikiLeaks. It is completely unacceptable for the US justice department to flex its muscles like this. I am lucky, I’m a representative in parliament. But what of other people? It’s my duty to do whatever I can to stop this abuse.” (Icelandic MP fights US Demand)
This does not bode well for freedom of speech. If prominent people are being harassed like this, people might have second thought about criticizing their government. Or suffer constant harassment and interrogation in the airport. So much for land of the free.
The broad-reaching legal document also targets an account held by Jacob Appelbaum, a US computer programmer whose computer and phones were examined by US officials in July after he was stopped returning from Holland to America.
Appelbaum, whose Twitter feed suggested he was travelling in Iceland, said he was apprehensive about returning to the US. “Time to try to enjoy the last of my vacation, I suppose,” he tweeted.
Update: 1:235PM Eastern Time: I guess this makes the Pirate Party’s rally to support Wikileak on January 15 even more relevant. Pirate Party is a new political party that advocates open government, and other rights for the information age. For those who are interested, Pirate Party of Canada is hosting a rally in Calgary and Vancouver on January 15th.