Jan
09
2011

US wants Twitter data of “Wikileaks activists”

Ever since Wikileaks caused drama by leaking United States diplomatic cables – something I’m sure most people have heard about by now, and if not just look it up on the net – the US government has started an investigation to try to bring Wikileaks “to justice”. I put “to justice” in quotes not because I am taking the side of Wikileaks (I am neither pro or anti Wikileaks), but rather because not everyone agrees on this matter.

Anyway, apparently as part of this investigation, the US Attorney’s office has convinced a District Court judge data held by Twitter is “relevant and material to [the] ongoing criminal investigation”; as a result, Twitter was earlier in the year served a subpoena, and now is forced to give over data related to various Twitter accounts believed to be related to either Julian Assange (the founder of Wikileaks) or Wikileaks itself – including Julian Assange’s own Twitter, plus those of Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic MP; and Bradley E. Manning, a militant supposedly responsible for the leaking of some of the cables; among others.

The reason we are aware of this subpoena is because Twitter was recently able to overturn a gagging order originally served with it. A gagging order prevents a person from revealing information under penalty of law. After getting the gag, Twitter fought back and successfully got the gagging order lifted; so Twitter is now legally allowed to let the public – and the respective account holders – know about the US Attorney’s Office’s demand to hand over data.

According to the BBC, the data demanded from Twitter by the US Attorney’s office includes “mailing addresses and billing information, connection records and session times, IP addresses used to access Twitter, email accounts, as well as the ‘means and source of payment'”.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Feel free to discuss in the comments below (consider this an open politics discussion thread), but keep it civil.

[Many thanks to BBC News for breaking this news!]

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