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US Twitter Spying May Have Broken EU Privacy Law 342

Stoobalou writes "A group of European MPs will today push EU bosses to say if the US government breached European privacy laws by snooping on Twitter users with links to whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) will today pose an oral question to the European Commission, seeking clarification from the US on a subpoena demanding the micro-blogging site hand over users' account details."
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US Twitter Spying May Have Broken EU Privacy Law

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  • by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:43AM (#34858210) Journal

    Then what?

  • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by devxo ( 1963088 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:46AM (#34858228)
    Such things don't seem to matter to US either..
  • Re:Privacy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Suki I ( 1546431 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:48AM (#34858238) Homepage Journal

    Aren't tweets public anyway? And what does it matter if they found links to the latest video/picture of some fat/old person/animal singing?

    The Tweets are, but I don't think the IP, phone number or other information of interest associated with the sender/follower is public.

  • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:55AM (#34858272)

    Well, I don't want to leave the impression I support the subpoena. I don't, and I believe it is correct for Twitter to fight it.

    But be that as it may, if Twitter is a US company, based in the US, it is subject to US law. The EU can butt out.

    If the US objected because of French subpoena served against a French company, operating in France, can you imagine the uproar?

  • self-contradictory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by t2t10 ( 1909766 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @01:57AM (#34858286)

    Somebody doesn't understand how the US legal system works:

    The lack of an identified illegal act and of a judicial enquiry in the US casts a shadow on the whole process of lifting the protection of citizens' privacy for the sake of national security through such subpoena orders,"

    Subpoenas get issues by courts, so there is a "judicial enquiry" and judicial oversight. And there is a potentially illegal act, namely the release of classified information; the prosecutor had to convince the judge of that. The order was by a US court to a US company. Furthermore, the individuals targeted were informed and given an opportunity to object.

    In Europe, police would be able to get this information without any judicial oversight, without anybody being informed, and without anybody being able to object.

    The complaints by these MEP are unfounded and apparently just being made to score political points; beating up on America is a politically successful strategy in Europe.

  • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zironic ( 1112127 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:49AM (#34858506)

    Countries generally don't give a flying shit about such clauses. The law always overrides individual agreements.

  • Re:Where? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:32AM (#34858708)

    They are a US company.
    Their servers are in the US.
    They Operate in the US.
    They got a subpoena from a US court.

    So by your own pontifications above, they must comply.

    Why are you arguing?
    What are you saying?
    Do you have an actual point?

  • Re:Where? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sean Hederman ( 870482 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:22AM (#34858860) Homepage

    Well, if found guilty of something in an EU court, they could be levied with a fine. Said fine could be served on any subsidiaries or offices they may have in the EU. Should they not have any such offices (they do), any EU assets they may have could be seized, their directors and/or staff could be constrained from travelling to the EU. A "nuclear option" would be a court order requiring all EU ISPs to block Twitter. For global companies these days, they generally have to abide to some degree to all sorts of laws beyond those of their home country.

  • Re:Where? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:23AM (#34858866) Journal

    Have you looked into the terms of service of twitter where the user agrees to be governed by US laws?
    And do you know that all over the world ... except in the USA (and perhaps China and Iraq) ... an agreement like this is void?
    In civilized countries you can not "give up" rights granted to you by law when you sign a contract. In other words the law is above contracts.

    Have you looked into the terms of service of twitter where the user agrees to be governed by US laws?
    Do you even know what this sentence means or is implying? It means that twitter is allowed to sue you in the US if you validate their terms of service. It also means you are allowed to sue twitter in the US if you feel mistreated by twitter. It does not mean that US law regarding privacy is applied to the contract relationship between twitter and its customers. In other words it does not mean that the US government is forced to obey US laws when spying on twitter users. And in contrary to what you implied to say: that is exactly what is happening here. In the US the US would need a warrant from a judge to "spy" on any US citizen. But for spying on a european they don't need a warrant? So Have you looked into the terms of service of twitter where the user agrees to be governed by US laws? is not to be honoured by the US themsleves?


  • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:10AM (#34859048) Journal

    Give it up. It's little more then US bashing.

    I mean hell, even the article doesn't say the US violated EU laws, it says some group looking for another 15 minutes of fame is going to asked someone in power to tell them if they violated the law. And according to the article summery, they call these people the bosses wording it as if the entire group is still getting their asses handed to them in dodge ball on the playground at recess from middle school. I mean it's worded as if the question is true and it's attempting to make people believe it without paying attention to the rest of the stuff.

  • Jurisdiction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by andersh ( 229403 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:15AM (#34859078)

    Your mistake is assuming that American law applies. There's no question that it's legal within the US, however services offered in Europe to European citizens is subject to European law. The information sought is clearly protected under European laws.

    Why do I even bother? It's Slashdot, mostly Americans and people reading this don't know the details of any legal system.

  • Re:Where? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @02:34PM (#34865504)

    Define market. Does anyone PAY for twitter?

    That your browser can reach a US web server does not make the US web server subject to your laws.

    My browser can reach a web servers in the EU. Does that mean US law applies to all these servers?

    My phone can dial your phone. Does that mean YOU must comply with US law while sitting in your house?

    Have you spent one second thinking about the reverse situation?

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson