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Icelandic MP To Challenge US Court Ruling On Twitter Privacy 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the ain't-over-'till-it's-over dept.
JabrTheHut writes "The Guardian has a story of how Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks volunteer, is challenging the U.S.'s acquisition of Twitter account information, IP addresses, mailing addresses and even bank information. The U.S. says it wanted these details to help with its investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Jonsdottir said, 'This is a huge blow for everybody that uses social media. We have to have the same civil rights online as we have offline. Imagine if the U.S. authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers. There would be a hell of a fight. It's absolutely unacceptable.'"
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Icelandic MP To Challenge US Court Ruling On Twitter Privacy

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  • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:36AM (#38034772)

    Twitter is based in the US and has servers here. Ultimately they will have to comply with US law whether or not that's good for anybody.

    • by Assmasher (456699)

      Exactly. If she kept a US bank account, or owned a home in the US - they would be subject to US search and seizure laws.

      • by saleenS281 (859657) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @11:49AM (#38035254) Homepage
        Right, and she's arguing that her online account should be subject to US search and seizure laws. The Government completely bypassed their own rules, claiming because it's online they can ignore your right to privacy, and the need to get a warrant to obtain the information.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Exactly, the rule of law doesn't seem to mean anything anymore if you mention Terrorism.

        • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @01:40PM (#38035904)

          Complete Nonsense. This material is covered under long standing US Law, the ECPA aka TITLE 18, PART I, CHAPTER 121 PARAGRAPH 2703 part d, passed in 1986.

          (d) Requirements for Court Order.â" A court order for disclosure under subsection (b) or (c) may be issued by any court that is a court of competent jurisdiction and shall issue only if the governmental entity offers specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of a wire or electronic communication, or the records or other information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation. In the case of a State governmental authority, such a court order shall not issue if prohibited by the law of such State. A court issuing an order pursuant to this section, on a motion made promptly by the service provider, may quash or modify such order, if the information or records requested are unusually voluminous in nature or compliance with such order otherwise would cause an undue burden on such provider.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Communications_Privacy_Act [wikipedia.org]

          • by saleenS281 (859657) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:55PM (#38036418) Homepage

            The Justice Department obtained the records under a federal statute that allows for the release of non-content Internet records without obtaining a search warrant, which requires prosecutors to demonstrate probable cause.

            No search warrant was obtained. They couldn't even prove probable cause when they attempted to get a warrant, so they found a loophole. Anything else?

            • by t2t10 (1909766)

              No search warrant was obtained. They couldn't even prove probable cause when they attempted to get a warrant, so they found a loophole. Anything else?

              Well, so it's up to Congress to close that loophole... or not. Until they do, that's the law. Whenever that may happen, it will probably be too late for the Icelandic MP.

    • Amerika! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:43AM (#38034818) Homepage Journal

      Number ONE enemy of Truth, Justice and the American Way!

      At least they are first in SOMETHING again. That 17th highest standard of living, and 56th least corrupt, just have to sting.

      If "Freedom isn't free", you guys are still being cheated.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "imagine if the U.S. authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers. "

      Your not exactly posting the private papers on social media sites, are you?

    • by rayvd (155635)

      Buuut, the US Government coerced him into putting his personal data on those US servers.

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:51AM (#38034880) Journal
      "I want everybody to be fully aware of the rights we apparently forfeit every time we sign one of these user agreements that no one reads," said Jonsdottir. [guardian.co.uk]

      That' right everyone, remember when you store your information on a computer in the US, be fully aware that information is now subject to US laws.

      Someone better warn her that her Facebook, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo are also at risk. Even her eBay and Google searches, maybe even some info sent through her iPhone or Android device if it passed through Apple or Google servers.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        And likewise if I post something to a site in Germany the information would be available to the German authorities. Or in China to the Chinese authorities. Ultimately, any time you do business with a company or organization online the data is retained or not based upon the laws in their jurisdiction.

        The US is hardly the only nation to feel that way and make use of it.

        • Why not... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jopsen (885607) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @03:43PM (#38036726) Homepage

          And likewise if I post something to a site in Germany the information would be available to the German authorities.....

          .... The US is hardly the only nation to feel that way and make use of it.

          Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc... are all doing business in Europe, whether they're selling services or ads... Granted sometimes the servers are located in the US, (sometimes it's the EU, or both, who knows?), nevertheless I doubt user agreements have any significant legal standing in most of Europe, the common man cannot be expected to understand 5 pages for legal nonsense, especially not when written in a foreign language.
          So why shouldn't Twitter, Facebook , Google etc. be fined for violating European privacy laws?
          I realize it would put these companies between a rock and a hard place, as the US would force them to deliver the information... But if we in Europe put these companies in this position, they'll probably buy, sorry lobby, some US politician to come up with better privacy laws, that respects users in foreign countries...

          Obviously, this would be a somewhat extreme action to take :)
          But when you do business in EU your subject to our laws... I don't hope the EU starts fining companies for complying with court orders, search warrents, or requests under an obscure "stored communications act" in the US right away, but starting a discussion about what's okay and how to handle violations would be a good thing...

          By the way, isn't it kind of arrogant (and stupid) to go to court for information about an MP in a foreign country? What can they possibly learn from her twitter account anyway :)

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Exactly, drop US servers, US .coms and all this web 2.0 cloud junk for any real political work.
          Host your own network in your own part of the world and set up quality "non commercial" encryption.
          If you need to us US web media, use it only as a passive updated news link to your real site.
          The NSA, .mil and CIA will be all over your site but a US web 2.0 host makes it too easy.
        • by HJED (1304957)
          Whilst you are correct, that is not the issue here. The issue here is the legality of the search in the US without a warrant/sufficient evidence.
      • by mpe (36238)
        That' right everyone, remember when you store your information on a computer in the US, be fully aware that information is now subject to US laws.

        It's probably more accurate to say that "Storing information on a computer in a foreign country can have many legal implications." Not that it is always obvious where a computer actually is. Especially with "cloud computing", where physical location can vary with time.

        Someone better warn her that her Facebook, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo are also at risk.

        With a
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        I would hope she is only fighting this on a point of principal and that she didn't keep any sensitive data on these services. You would think that basic privacy and legal protection would be required knowledge for anyone involved in Wikileaks.

        On the bright side at least we now have another argument against the "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide" brigade. Everyone has stuff they want to hide, especially since online you are subject to the laws of other countries.

    • by chrb (1083577) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @01:26PM (#38035826)
      Indeed, but they also have to comply with the law of every country that they do business in. And, soon Twitter's international HQ will be based in the E.U., [guardian.co.uk] so they will be subject to more regulation (they do say they're already E.U. Data Protection compliant).
    • by jythie (914043)
      Though imagine the outrage of US lawmakers if foreign governments were forcing trans national companies that set up shop in their boundaries started going after US citizens.

      One of the recurring problems, or at minimal worries, about so much of the 'net being based in the US is it results in US laws and judicial system being applied to non-US citizens who often have no way to defend or represent themselves. It is a situation the US would generally not find acceptable if it were reversed, and there is not e
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Perhaps if those other countries had bothered to invent the internet that wouldn't be the case. I'm not saying it's good for the US to have so much control, but it's hardly something that just happened. Our government invested a ton of money inventing the thing and to this day a significant amount of development is done by American firms that offer up services world wide. It didn't exactly take me a long time to dig up the information that Twitter was based in San Francisco.

        As bad as the US is in some areas

  • Now you know the police state we are don't use US based Businesses if you know whats good for you.
    Not worth it.

  • by Godskitchen (1017786) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:42AM (#38034808)
    I am barely see you up there on your horse. Your tweets are not the same thing as your "private papers."
  • by flaming error (1041742) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:53AM (#38034892) Journal

    "We have to have the same civil rights online as we have offline."

    I think she'll get no argument there from the Dept of Homeland Security.

    Unfortunately, the DHS (literally translated to Russian, the acronym would be "KGB") seems to think there are none in either place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GNious (953874)

      I think she'll get no argument there from the Dept of Homeland Security. DHS (literally translated to Russian, the acronym would be "KGB")

      (KGB) (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti or Committee for State Security)

  • It's strange to expect that the same rules apply to all things. If I were looking for absolute anonymity, I wouldn't use a U.S.-based service. In the same way, if I wanted my money to be there the next day, I wouldn't use an Icelandic bank
  • "We have to have the same civil rights online as we have offline. Imagine if the U.S. authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers."

    The right to free speech is not infinite. Especially when your speech infringes on the rights of others (try right to life of soldiers and CIA),

    This woman would be subject to having her home searched and private papers viewed if she were physically in the US. Physical papers could be searched if they were in a US bank vault. The same rul
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I think people are misconstruing some of the issues here - in this case, has due process really been afforded, because the Twitter ruling was based around a lower requirement of demonstration of need for obtaining the search warrant - basically, the Judge ruled that the requester didn't need to demonstrate any "probable cause" because of the type of information being requested, and thus the warrant would be issued on a lower burden of requirement.

      So in this case, even if this lady had papers and possessions

    • by anagama (611277)

      The right to free speech is not infinite. Especially when your speech infringes on the rights of others (try right to life of soldiers and CIA),

      1) The revalations stemming from decoding the wikileaks cache are directly responsible for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq: http://www.salon.com/2011/10/23/wikileaks_cables_and_the_iraq_war/singleton/ [salon.com]

      2) 4483 US Military Deaths in Iraq in the last 9 years (498/yr): http://icasualties.org/ [icasualties.org]

      3) Documented civilian deaths (probably very conservative): 1

  • Imagine if the U.S. authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers. There would be a hell of a fight. It's absolutely unacceptable.'"

    If you lived here, where the actual data resides in the twitter case, no there wouldn't be a 'hell of a fight'. They would come with a warrant from a judge, tear down your door, search your house and you get to sit there politely and watch. If you protest, you get hauled away.

    • by Aryden (1872756)
      if you read and understand what is being done here, you wouldn't make that statement. The government is NOT having a warrant issued, they subpoenaed the information. Brigitta and Twitter are arguing that the government DOES require a search warrant to obtain the information. This ruling is saying that your online information does not need a warrant to obtain. Whereas, if they were papers stored in her house, were it in Connecticut, there would have to be warrant issued. So the question is, does your online
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        No, i understood it. Its why i said if they came to your house they *would* have a warrant, and you couldn't say boo about it..

        I would imagine that if the 'data' was stored at your house instead of some 3rd party, then a warrant would be needed for that too. Being off site on what is essentially a 'public service provider' is the key to me. I also bet that if you had a paid storage service off site the same warrant need would apply.

        • by Aryden (1872756)
          a warrant WOULD apply, that's the argument. They want the records without being able to get the warrant.
  • "Imagine if the U.S. authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers. There would be a hell of a fight. It's absolutely unacceptable.'"

    That would be nice, but I don't think it is very likely. Access to the court system is a matter of how much you are willing to spend, particularly in criminal defense matters.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @12:46PM (#38035544) Homepage Journal
    If you want your social media to conform to your country's idea of "Reasonable," you should make your own damn social media, and host it in your country. Though I'm sure there's probably a treaty or something, and data taps for secret service on all the border routers outside your nation, so it's probably pointless anyway. Feel free to do it anyway, if it makes you feel better.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Someone who was involved with WikiLeaks, an organization that specializes in exposing private information and secret data, whining about having their personal information exposed to the government. It brings to mind that old saying, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Or just one word, Karma!
    • by anagama (611277)
      Don't be an idiot. There is real and material difference between your credit card data and friends, and committing war crimes. Some things have no public value (your CC number for example) and some are huge.
  • Quoting Icelanders (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei (128717) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:11PM (#38036104) Homepage

    Jonsdottir said, 'This is a huge blow for everybody that uses social media.

    Notes to the Guardian (and to Slashdot for just copy-pasting it):

    1) The name is "Jónsdóttir", not "Jonsdottir". I assume you know how to use accented characters; this isn't the 1980s. Jonsdottir is not only incorrect, but it would have a different pronunciation.

    2) "Jónsdóttir" isn't a last name. It's a föðurnafn, or "patronymic". Think of it as an adjective, not a name -- in terms of actual usage, "Birgitta Jónsdóttir" should be thought of as "Birgitta, whose father is Jón." Saying "Jónsdóttir said" is like saying "Whose father is Jón said". You don't refer to people by their patronymics alone; they're only there for when you need clarity. Even phone books in Iceland are sorted by first name.

    Anyway, I was going to make some joke about how, given the typical ignorance of most people about Iceland, and of Americans about the outside world in general, I wouldn't be surprised if the US tried to subpoena her kennitala (Icelandic "Social Security Number" equivalent)... but then I realized that I'd have to take the time to explain what's funny about that and it'd ruin it. ;)

    • Americans know quite a bit about the outside world. This wouldn't be a big issue if you ignored the people who use anecdotal evidence and conspiracy fantasies to bolster their pre-existing prejudices and bias when forming an opinion on the US.
    • by Aryden (1872756)
      Nafnið er óviðeigandi. Flest enskumælandi löndum mun fjarlægja kommur. Eins og fyrir Kennitala hennar, að er annað mál að öllu leyti.
      • by Rei (128717)

        Flest enskumælandi löndum mun ekki fjarlægja kommur egar kommurnar eru í frönsk nöfn. T.d., "Renée [guardian.co.uk]".

        Ég get skilið að ýða japansku eða kínversku nöfn, en íslenska stafrófið er ekki svona óvenjulegt. Mér finnst.

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      I assume you know how to use accented characters; this isn't the 1980s.

      Yet Slashdot doesn't know. You see, Unicode is pure black magic, switching to it would require rocket surgery.

  • So if they rule that the data must be kept private, how exactly are they planning on enforcing that ruling? I suppose the Council of Europe could use rude language, but... wait, they are doing that already.

  • It would be interesting to see a full risk analysis of using and giving data to any social network service. Typically these are run by companies - some private, others publicaly listed. The data supplied by users is held by those companies for years. Ownership of companies changes. The ownership of services move. Is there any impediment to Twitter (or for that matter Facebook) selling the service to say a health insurer? Is there any impediment to the then health insurer running data mining to assess

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