A judge have ruled that Twitter must give up some of their user’s information to the U.S. government as part of their Wikileaks probe. This pertains to the secret court order mentioned in my previous blog – Patriot Act Being Used to Crackdown on Wikileak’s Supporters. The lawyers of some of these users are vowing to appeal.
Steven Aftergood, who works on government secrecy policy for the Federation of American Scientists, said the government’s aggressive pursuit of the Twitter accounts reflects one of two possibilities.
“Either the government is being extremely diligent in crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’. Or the other possibility is that they have no case whatsoever and they’re tallying up all conceivable leads,” he said. “The information they’re going to get from Twitter is indirect evidence at best.”
The same Virginia magistrate judge, Theresa Carroll Buchanan, was also the one who issued the original order, wherein Twitter was asked to keep the handover of user’s information secret.
Buchanan also rejected a request that would have required the government to disclose whether it sought similar records from other social networking sites like Facebook.
Update: She ruled that user have no expectation of privacy since they shared their information with Twitter. Those information being sought by the government includes:
full contact details for the accounts (phone numbers and addresses), IP addresses used to access the accounts, connection records (“records of session times and durations”) and data transfer information, such as the size of data file sent to someone else and the destination IP.
…She further ruled that the request did not violate the account holder’s First Amendment rights since the order did not seek to control their speech or their associations. Nor did it violate the Fourth Amendment because the accountholders did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy over subscriber information they freely provided to Twitter. (ars technica)