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US Judge Orders Twitter To Give Up WikiLeaks Data 293

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-get-to-keep-their-clothes-for-now dept.
cultiv8 writes "A US judge Friday ordered Twitter to hand over the data of three users in contact with the activist site WikiLeaks. 'US Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan rejected arguments raised by the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a host of private attorneys representing the Twitter account holders, who had asserted that their privacy was protected by federal law, the First Amendment, and the Fourth Amendment. Buchanan rejected each of the arguments in quick succession, saying that there was no First Amendment issue because activists "have already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available." The account holders have "no Fourth Amendment privacy interest in their IP addresses," she said, and federal privacy law did not apply because prosecutors were not seeking contents of the communications.'"
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US Judge Orders Twitter To Give Up WikiLeaks Data

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:27AM (#35463554)

    If somebody at Twitter deleted those accounts, or at least deleted the identifying information and it couldn't clearly be established who had done it... what could the US government do to Twitter as a corporation? Even a large fine would probably be worth it in the long run from all the goodwill and positive feedback they'd get from their users.

    saying that there was no First Amendment issue because activists "have already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available."

    Its like McCarthyism all over again.

  • Chilling effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:31AM (#35463580)
    I thought the point of the first amendment argument was that this sort of action would have a chilling effect on free speech, not that the twitter users were having their free speech rights directly violated...
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:42AM (#35463638) Homepage

    The right to speak anonymously in order to protect one's self from retaliation from individuals or oppressive, tyrannical or vengeful governments is an ESSENTIAL part of the first amendment protection. So the judge is simply wrong about this. Having the right to speech is only part of the first amendment. Having the right to free speech without fear is the rest of it.

  • by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash.omnifarious@org> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:47AM (#35463682) Homepage Journal

    First, the point is not that this will effect the participants ability to say whatever they said. The point is that it will effect future participants willingness to say things. It's about the chilling effect, not about the given participants first amendment rights exactly.

    Secondly, I do have a privacy interest in my IP address. If I didn't, then why do services like Tor exist to hide it? If nobody cared about that, then nobody would use Tor, but many people clearly do. So people do have a privacy interest in their IP address. So the 4th amendment does apply.

  • Home of the brave (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @09:50AM (#35463712) Homepage

    This.

    >there was no First Amendment issue because activists "have already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available."

    The tweets are already published. If they weren't illegal what are you pursuing them for?

    So, somebody tweets something in support of Wikileaks, you want to hunt them down to send them to Guantan, and there's no 1st amendment issue.

    At this rate Tunisia (which just abolished its state security) and Egypt (whose people raided their state security HQ) will be freer than the "land of the free".

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:01AM (#35463782) Homepage Journal
    its not freedom of the press - its freedom of speech.

    if you dont have freedom to know, and talk about what you know, then it means that you dont have freedom of speech, period. no amount of legal beautifying can change that fact.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:26AM (#35463932)

    Private tweets and the identities of their recipients.

    This is more problematic for the Icelandic MP, as many of those tweets could have been part of government business - It's almost certain that foreign government workers will leave twitter now, being barred by their respective governments - assuming that they hadn't already been so. The ability for the government to get private data is also going to scare off a lot of normal users.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:27AM (#35463940) Homepage

    Secondly, I do have a privacy interest in my IP address. If I didn't, then why do services like Tor exist to hide it? If nobody cared about that, then nobody would use Tor, but many people clearly do. So people do have a privacy interest in their IP address. So the 4th amendment does apply.

    That's not what the judge said, she said there's no 4th amendment privacy interest. You may have a large privacy interest in your ex not talking about your infidelity, STDs and poor lovemaking but you have no 4th amendment protection of it. For the most part, the courts have strictly interpreted the 4th amendment to mean places you own or have exclusive control over like your apartment and bank deposit box. Whatever information third parties have registered about you generally only requires a subpoena of the third party, not you. Same as if you store your drugs in the neighbor's garden shed and his subpoena is valid then you have no 4th amendment protection.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:29AM (#35463952)

    So in your mind, freedom means consequences and punishment?

    If you are free to speak or assemble or worship, it doesn't mean you can do it until the government finds out and (potentially) stops you.

    Freedom of speech was proposed because the founders didn't have it. They wanted to protect it in case the government they created ever became corrupt. Ironically, the first steps on the road of corruption seem to be limiting the freedoms guaranteed in the bill of rights.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:34AM (#35463988) Homepage Journal

    What war crimes are you speaking of? Please, do tell.

    torture ? kidnapping ? contracting torture prisons in 3rd party client states ?

    He has put thousands of lives in jeopardy

    What thousands of lives are you speaking of ? Please, do tell.

    are you speaking of the lives of the cia personnel that kidnapped people, the bastards that set up torture prisons in client countries, or the whoresons who tortured people in those countries ? or the agents which arranged for killings and murders in iraq, afghanistan ?

    noone gives two shits about lives of those people. they chose their path, and they were PAID for it.

    dont give us that crap.

  • by Kosi (589267) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:46AM (#35464076)

    WikiLeaks only publishes information that already has been leaked. They don't send out spies to gather such information like those three letter agencies do.

    And none of the information published by WikiLeaks caused any real harm to or even endangered a person, nor was it suited to do so. The interest the US have here is about the same of a criminal not wanting to have his crimes and other stuff he is ashamed for published.

    btw, recently I stumbled over this fine sentence: "WikiLeaks is the intelligence agency of the people". :)

  • by Mr.Fork (633378) <edward@j@reddy.gmail@com> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:34AM (#35464402) Journal
    GooberToo - As a unbiased Canadian, you have no idea how right-winged your comments sound. I'm sorry, in order for your point to be valid - this "deleted information" and "interference" would have to come from a crime after conviction. Is there a conviction we don't know about? Apart from the Private who handed over the documents (and who's charges have yet to be proved in court), what are you're referring to? Has Assange been charged by a US District court, found guilty 'in absentia'? Is there something the rest of the civilized world do not know?

    Isn't your first amendment is a foundation and a pillar of democracy? (which a lot of countries view as a model for modern societies). This judge, BTW if you actually did your homework, is a republican who has more ties to the past Bush administration than Halliburton oil-blow-off valve for off-shore drilling rigs.

    The prosecution found a judge who would ignore the constitution to rubber stamp what ever they needed.

    It's a sad day for US democracy - I'm sorry to say it, but isn't the USA suppose to be a model of democracy? Why is the USA appearing more and more like a totalitarian regime?

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

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