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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 @10:27AM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wrong! That was Un-Americanism, this is clearly Un-Patriotism. The two are completely different.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:46AM (#35463670) Journal

      Someone would almost certainly get charged with obstruction of justice.

      • Someone would almost certainly get charged with obstruction of justice.

        Is that the thing they charge newspaper reporters with when they refuse to reveal their sources?

    • and a host of private attorneys representing the Twitter account holders

      What other information are they after if they already have the identity of the twits (or is it twitees)? If they are represented by attorneys the court already knows who they are, right? Any tweets they posted were publicly available. What other info does Twitter have about these individuals?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:26AM (#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.

      • and a host of private attorneys representing the Twitter account holders

        What other information are they after if they already have the identity of the twits (or is it twitees)? If they are represented by attorneys the court already knows who they are, right? Any tweets they posted were publicly available. What other info does Twitter have about these individuals?

        That would be "tweeters." FTFY

    • by GooberToo (74388) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:31AM (#35463968)

      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?

      Who cares what they'd do to the corporation. The people who deleted the information would be charged with interference with a federal investigation, destruction of evidence, and likely a number of other associated charges. Furthermore, the fact someone would deem the information worthy of destruction actually bolsters the government's position the information is worth obtaining.

      .Its like McCarthyism all over again.

      No its not. Go learn some history. The comparison is idiotic.

      • by Mr.Fork (633378) <edward@j@reddy.gmail@com> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @12:34PM (#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?
    • saying that there was no First Amendment issue because activists "have already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available.

      I just woke up so maybe I'm reading it wrong but is this judge saying the First Amendment only applies to speech that is private?

  • Chilling effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:31AM (#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 DJRumpy (1345787)

      Is it valid for a judge to consider the effect a ruling might have on others, rather than the actual law involved in a case? I'm genuinely curious if they are supposed to consider the effect of a ruling when the letter of the law hasn't been violated?

      • Re:Chilling effect (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheoMurpse (729043) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @01:01PM (#35464604) Homepage

        As a lawyer, I wish articles like this would link the decision at the very beginning or the very end of the article always. Here [eff.org], no thanks to the /. summary!

        Decisions relying on anti-"chilling effect" policy reasons for the conclusion tend to be at the appellate level, not the district level, and especially not at the magistrate level. Magistrates are appointed for a short number of years and are not Article III judges. Doing what the Article III judges (district, circuit, SCOTUS) say is of the utmost importance to them since Magistrates are basically merely auxiliaries or para-judges. So, no, magistrate judges will almost never rely on public policy concerns such as "chilling effects" to decide an issue. This is my experience as someone who used to work directly for a federal magistrate judge doing research for him.

        Now, I humbly offer my analysis of the decision (apologies for it not being perfect writing, but it's Saturday, and the goal is just to shed a little light on what actually is going on in the decision):

        Facts

        1. Gov't requests Twitter records that do not include the contents of posts. Namely, it requests ID, contact info, registration information, records of connection time, etc.
        2. Court orders Twitter to turn over info
        3. Twitter users argue to "get rid of" ("vacate") the order to disclose this info.

        Issues

        1. Does the Stored Communications Act give power to Twitter users to try and get order vacated (i.e., do Twitter users have "standing" under the SCA)
        2. was the order properly issued
        3. does the order violate 1st Amendment
        4. does order violate 4th Amendment
        5. One user is Icelandic and a gov't official, so does "international comity" require vacation of the order

        Standing under SCA
        No, they dont. SCA gives standing only if contents of communications are requested. The distinction between contents and records (non-content data such as ID, access time, etc.) is explicitly made in the law itself, so this isn't just semantics. Government wins issue 1.

        Proper issuance of order
        Users argue the government did not follow proper procedure to get the order. Users argue info requested is not relevant and material to investigation. Court says it is.

        First Amendment
        Users argue it creates a chilling effect on free speech by creating a "map of association." Court says that the association between these users was made publicly by the users themselves already, so no chilling effect in this instance can be had. This is where the whole "publicly policy" issue would come into play in an appellate court, but not in an Article I magistrate court. While it could have a chilling effect on other associations (which I personally doubt, as, IIRC from my use on Twitter, everyone's Twitter friend list is publicly accessible anyway), it's not for the magistrate court to decide. That would be for the Circuit or Supreme Courts.

        Fourth Amendment
        Users argue it's a warrantless search, and the requested IP addresses are "intensely revealing" as to location, including location within a home and movements within. OK, wtf is this bullcrap? Turning over an IP address will tell the police which room in a house you were posting in? That sounds really specious.

        In any case, court enters into a "reasonableness" analysis as is de rigueur with Fourth Amendment issues--does the act infringe on expectation of privacy society consideres reasonable? There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in data voluntarily turned over to third parties. This may not be true if the EULA specifies that data will be kept private, but the court doesn't address this issue because the argument was never made. Instead, the court says: Look, you gave Twitter your IP address, so you can't reasonably expect it to be kept secret from police. Other courts have apparently said si

    • Re:Chilling effect (Score:4, Insightful)

      by swalve (1980968) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:50AM (#35464090)
      The whole point of the first amendment is "congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech". That doesn't guarantee anonymity. The only thing that guarantees anonymity is the person exercising the freedom of speech and what steps they take to be anonymous. Using an interconnected computer network without taking steps beyond a clever nickname does no such thing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The only thing protecting our 1st amendment rights, and all the others, is the will to use force in their defense. The paper is worthless without the will to back it up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:31AM (#35463582)

    I can't wait for his time in office to end.

    Gitmo will be closed and indefinite detention will end.

    There will be no more illegal wiretaps.

    • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:35AM (#35463990)

      I have to respond to the Guantanamo Bay issue, since it pops up so often. In 2009 and again in 2011, congress passed laws blocking the transfer of prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. They were part of omnibus spending bills, so refusing to sign them would have been a disaster. I don't know what you expected Obama to do, short of declaring himself emperor and ruling by decree.

      It's ironic that one of your complaints is about the president violating the constitution, while the other is about him not violating the constitution to get his way. Funny how our views change depending on whether we oppose or support an issue.

      • by Cinnamon Whirl (979637) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @12:30PM (#35464356)
        As an non-US citizen.....

        I would expect you to stop putting spending bills and prisoner transfers bills into one package.

        It seems such a weird way of doing business. If a measure can't stand on its own, it shouldn't stand at all.
      • by sjames (1099)

        I would like him to do what no Democrat has done in years. I would like him to call a press conference, tell the people how important those bills are and that he can't sign them because attached a rider calling for America to act like a two bit dictatorship and he refuses to be a part of that.

        He can then emphasize the point by declaring that if Congress would like to rush him a version with those lines struck, he will sign it instantly.

        The republican party has already publicly stated that their policy is o

        • by Caraig (186934) *

          Unfortunately, a bit more than one quarter of the US identifies as Republican/right-wing/authoritarian-follower, or any two of those or all three. About the same amount identifies as Democratic/left-wing. The remaining half are ostensibly 'independant' but trend right-of-center.

          This is a country just BEGGING for an authoritarian right-wing dictator.

          • by sjames (1099)

            The Democrats are right of center anyway. In Europe they would be called the right. We have no major party that even reaches the center point, much less left of center.

            Much of America seems to be in the thrall of the political pundits and their spin machines.

      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        If he had balls he would have rold congress they can take those provisions out or he pardons everyone at gitmo.

        the same he should do with pvt. Manning over the illegal abuse the army has subjected him to.
      • Hasn't the federal government got a black budget to fund operations which are unpopular and of questionable legality? Why can't the inmates be moved out in the same way they where moved in?

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        > [Gitmo is Congress's fault]

        > They were part of omnibus spending bills, so refusing to sign them would have been a disaster.

        The government shutting down is not a disaster. It has happened before. It doesn't last very long, and very few people die (probably a couple at VA hospitals or something, if you squint and look at it from an angle). It has happened before, and is a pretty potent political stick to get Congress to remove policy edicts from spending bills. It would be politically risky for him to

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jaypifer (64463)

        I don't know what you expected Obama to do, short of declaring himself emperor and ruling by decree.

        2007 Obama:

        "While we're at it," he said, "we're going to close Guantanamo. And we're going to restore habeas corpus. ... We're going to lead by example not just word but by deed. That's our vision for the future."

        I don't know...expect him to follow through on what he was elected upon? What was his plan then? In 2009 in his inaugural speech he reaffirmed that United States does not have "to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals." In January, he signed an executive order to close it. Was there a plan in 2009? Incidentally, in 2009 there was a lot of talk about prosecuting Bush for these very acts that are perpetuated today.

        Congress didn't create Gitmo, the President did

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:34AM (#35463602) Homepage Journal
    oh boy. one great display of freedom after another - freedom to commit war crimes and hide it from public that is. and it is not treason to commit war crimes behind the backs of the elected people - but to let people know it - or, even more, people TO know it.
    • by magarity (164372) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:46AM (#35463672)

      oh boy. one great display of freedom after another - freedom to commit war crimes and hide it from public that is. and it is not treason to commit war crimes behind the backs of the elected people - but to let people know it - or, even more, people TO know it.

      It's a long standing precedent that one has the freedom to publish anything first and then face punishment after the fact. Did you think this was something new? Why do so many people think freedom of the press means freedom from consequences of publishing something proscribed?

      • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:01AM (#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 DJRumpy (1345787)

          States secrets cannot simply be shouted about because you happen to know them. You are implying that anyone should have the right to any state secrets (or any information for that matter), which would clearly never work in a society that relies on state secrets for a variety of reasons ranging from Treaty Negotiations, Espionage, Research, Military Operations, etc. There are clearly valid reasons for such state secrets to exist.

          Section 793 of the Espionage Act specifically addresses classified information a

          • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @12:19PM (#35464276) Homepage Journal

            States secrets cannot simply be shouted about because you happen to know them.

            and that is precisely why that concept is being used for doing filth, and hiding it.

            the damage done is much more than the benefit rendered. there shouldnt be any concept of 'state secret'.

            if everyone knew everything there would be no way to do wrongdoing in any part of the world, by anybody, and a lot of the division we have would be unnecessary, including most of arms and armor.

            • by DJRumpy (1345787)

              Except we do not live in a perfect world, and altruistic statements claiming that peace, love, and harmony would result if there were no secrets have no basis in fact since no such state of mind and openness exists, and most likely never will due to the human nature. Claiming that it would be that way with no proof to that effect (since such a condition has never existed in Man's written history) is a bit disingenuous and it also happens to be based on simple beliefe rather than any social models that actua

              • by unity100 (970058)
                we need state secrets go because we do not live in a perfect world. in a perfect world there wouldnt be much difference in between having secrets or not.

                in an imperfect world, state secrets become the tool to abuse societies.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 swalve (1980968)

          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.

          But freedom doesn't mean freedom *from* con

      • by causality (777677) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:43AM (#35464064)

        It's a long standing precedent that one has the freedom to publish anything first and then face punishment after the fact. Did you think this was something new?

        Yes, of course. Likewise, it's a long standing precedent that one has the freedom (hypothetically) to rob a bank and then face punishment after the fact. Did you think that was something new?

        If "see, we punished these guys for saying that, and we'll do the same to you if you say that" isn't prior restraint then what would be?

        • Likewise, it's a long standing precedent that one has the freedom (hypothetically) to rob a bank and then face punishment after the fact.

          No, actually that is not true. The government is allowed to stop you from robbing a bank. The courts have often ruled that the government cannot stop you from publishing, even when they can punish you after you have done so.

      • by b4upoo (166390)

        With a true free press nothing may ever be proscribed. A regulated press, regardless of whether well or poorly regulated, is far from being free. The concept that speech deemed offensive or dangerous may be regulated rapes the very foundations of freedom. The consequences of speech poorly received could be social but never carry legal penalties or civil fines etc..

      • by sjames (1099)

        It's also long been understood that punishment for publishing something in the public interest or punishment that has a chilling effect on publication is and injustice.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    2008, let's see:

    Progressive President, Democrats in charge of the US House and Senate.

    Soooo, Patriot Act not repealed, illegal wiretaps not stopped, the prison at Guantanamo stays around.

    Get it through your heads: Even putting the "preferred" people in charge of the US government - it still acts as your enemy.

    Will you PLEASE stop voting to fund the beast that is the US government? Without the money it feeds on, it won't be able to steal your freedoms.

    Because if it isn't clear by now that supporting higher

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:42AM (#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.

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

      by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @10:50AM (#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 v1 (525388)

        I'm surprised the Shield Law [wikipedia.org] doesn't apply to places like twitter. They function very much the same, an a source of information is known to the publisher but is anonymous to the public, to protect that source.

        We have a Digital Millenium Copyright Act, we need a Digital Millennium Shield Law. Funny how we get new laws all the time to make more acts illegal due to advances in technology, but never seem to get new protective laws due to advances in technology. Makes me think the legal system considers the c

        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          Great point. Twitter started out as a joke, but has quickly become a vital aspect of toppling governments. Same for Facebook.

          For graduates of the John Yoo [wikipedia.org] school of law, that's what free speech/1st amendment was for in the first place.

          And the same administration is going to deign to lecture Iran and China on human rights issues? (Hillary at the UNHRC.) Speaking of Iran, how exactly are they going to condemn Iran going after social networkers and trying to unmask Twitter users after they're doing it themselv

      • 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".

        Wow, you just kind of depressed me. Not because of what you said, but because it's so sad and you're probably right. :(

      • by Caraig (186934) *

        "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"."

        That's... really rather fscking depressing. :(

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ToasterMonkey (467067)

      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.

      Sure, I'll bite, so to what extent is your anonymity protected? If I find out who you are, can I tell the rest of the world? If you speak something anonymously (what?) can I give a description of you later? What identifiable aspects do you think are protected? What WOULD you have protected? Should you be able to prosecute me for identifying you? How would you demarcate "anonymous" speech so that I know to "hide/make believe/look the other way" for any information I know about the speaker?

      IP address -

    • by sznupi (719324)
      OTOH how much we have to depend on anonymity reveals how much of a functional & honest free speech we really have, on a case basis.
  • They *are* part of the government, why do people think they will act in the best interest of the people and not the government? The case and ruling are biased, a third party should be making the decision.
    • Getting a ruling in your favour in the US is just a matter of finding 'a' judge somewhere whose *opinions* align with yours.
  • Question to web 2.0 companies: Why are you keeping logs of which user logged in from which IP address in the first place? That is, if it's not out of some misplaced sense of "patriotism", or do the Feds make you do it?

    For GeoIP ads, that a problem for the ad server serving the ad to the person reading a tweet, not the tweeter. And if it's for geographical information on the tweeter, just do the GeoIP lookup upon signup, and you don't need to keep the IP data.

    • by lennier1 (264730)

      In some cases it's needed so authorities can follow up on users' illegal activities (death threats, stalkers, identity theft, publishing of illegal content like child pornography ...). Otherwise the company could be held liable.
      In other cases it's needed for follow-ups to protect yourself from fraud (e.g. if a user doesn't want to pay and denies he has signed up for your service even though you can prove logins from his IP and with his payment details).

    • Question to web 2.0 companies: Why are you keeping logs of which user logged in from which IP address in the first place? That is, if it's not out of some misplaced sense of "patriotism", or do the Feds make you do it?

      I can't speak for other web site owners, but I track the IP addresses of every visitor on my site for two primary reasons:

      First, so that if someone tries to hack my site, I can find them, report them to their ISP, and prosecute them if necessary. This also applies to defacement. As my sites are social-networky, if someone does something to try to deface them, I track the IP address so that I can deny it, or if necessary, a range of addresses, to the sites to keep them from just signing up with throwaway a

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        Second, it is included as part of the session information as a security measure. If someone attempts to connect to my site using a session (which entails not having to type his or her username and password to log in every time), the site matches the session ID against the IP address also to make sure the user is connecting via that session from the same address. If it is a different address, that is an indication that someone may be trying to hijack someone else's session and it redirects back to the login page.

        You should drop the IP check. Laptop users who suspend or hibernate will hate you for that, as will anyone who goes through a round-robin set of IP addresses.

        Use https if you're that worried about it.

        Since you're redirecting if the IP doesn't match, if someone wanted to steal the user credentials, they'd just serve them up a copy of your login page at some random point, then redirect to your real login page. No need to steal a session when you've already trained people to have to log in at random time

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        OK, thanks for that perspective. That makes sense (esp. the 1-week purge policy).

        Basically, it's the idiots that ruin it for everybody else (viz. the login issue at the FSF leading to login controls).

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Question to web 2.0 companies: Why are you keeping logs of which user logged in from which IP address in the first place?

      Marketing.

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        Well, but if the company is smart, they could/should just be tracking people by cookie as opposed to IP address (which can change depending on your DSL provider's policies).

  • 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.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday March 12, 2011 @11:27AM (#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 PPH (736903)
        So, information in a third parties hands is fair game? Like signatures signatures on initiative and referendum petitions [ballotpedia.org]? It will be interesting to see how the SCOTUS rules on this. Particularly how it will influence campaign funding, lobbying and other political influence buying operations.
        • by Kjella (173770)

          If you follow the link to Doe v. Reed [ballotpedia.org] you will see the US Supreme Court has already decided in June 2010 and in a 8-1 ruling held that the law was not unconstitutional then send it back down to a lower court. In any case anonymous speech is mostly protected under the first amendment, not the fourth amendment.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Just because the judge waves her hands and says "these aren't the droids you're looking for" doesn't make it true. Nor does the great mounds of sophistry that has been used to expand federal powers far beyond what the Constitution intended and to shrink the effect of the Bill of Rights to far smaller than it is supposed to be.

  • One of the things that seems to be happening here is that USA Federal case law is beginning to define the difference between privacy, with its constitutional protections, and anonymity, which for all practical purposes only came into existence with the rise of the Internet. That is, before the Internet, there really was no effective way to publish anything to a large audience without leaving a trail that would expose the author's identity to anyone who cared to do the leg work.

    So this anonymity thing is a

    • by PPH (736903)

      That is, before the Internet, there really was no effective way to publish anything to a large audience without leaving a trail that would expose the author's identity to anyone who cared to do the leg work.

      I'm sure people such as Silence Dogood [wikipedia.org] or Deap Throat [wikipedia.org] would disagree.

    • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Saturday March 12, 2011 @12:51PM (#35464532) Journal

      One of the things that seems to be happening here is that USA Federal case law is beginning to define the difference between privacy, with its constitutional protections, and anonymity, which for all practical purposes only came into existence with the rise of the Internet. That is, before the Internet, there really was no effective way to publish anything to a large audience without leaving a trail that would expose the author's identity to anyone who cared to do the leg work.

      I'm sorry, but that is a total falsehood. Amonymous publishing was part and parcel of political movements for centuries. Pamphleteers [wikipedia.org] didn't always sign their names, as noted here [wikipedia.org]

      One other feature of 18th C. pamphleteering deserves mention, one that may have a lot of relevance in other countries today where the Web is used for purposes of political insurrection. That is, the pamphlet was preferred by the rebels because it did not provide any target for retaliation by the crown. It was a guerilla form of publishing in which an individual or small revolutionary group could make a point, then disappear. This was in contrast to the more established printers. Typically, the printer owned his shop, his press, his tools and all his stock. If he antagonized the Crown, they knew just where to find him, and the king's agents could easily shut him down. The hit-and-run, anonymous pamphleteer, on the other hand, was almost impossible to find and, thus, to stop.

      Anonymous pamphleteering was part of the American Revolution. The same way that samizdat was part of the fall of Soviet Russia.

    • My personal feelings are that Wikilieaks and similar vigilante mechanisms have done much more good than harm

      What harm did Wikileaks do so far?

  • Means assumed guilt.

    Great. So when do the black vans just start picking up people randomly?

  • .... my IP is 192.168.1.2. I'd have given 127.0.0.1, but you guys are just too smart to fall for that.

  • There's quite a precedent for anonymous speech. Just because you say stuff doesn't mean you lose any expectation of privacy. I'd have gone with the so-far successful defense used at gitmo -- "foreigners do not have rights guaranteed in the constitution."

    Now personally I'd assumed that the framers of the constitution were describing these rights as extending to all human beings. "ALL men yadda yadda." Certainly at any time those rights have been limited (Mostly for women and black people) they were conside

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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