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Justice Department Demands Five Twitter Users' Personal Info Over an Emoji ( 59

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: Back in May, the Justice Department -- apparently lacking anything better to do with its time -- sent a subpoena to Twitter, demanding a whole bunch of information on five Twitter users, including a few names that regular Techdirt readers may be familiar with. If you can't see that, it's a subpoena asking for information on the following five Twitter users: @dawg8u ("Mike Honcho"), @abtnatural ("Virgil"), @Popehat (Ken White), @associatesmind (Keith Lee) and @PogoWasRight (Dissent Doe). I'm pretty sure we've talked about three of those five in previous Techdirt posts. Either way, they're folks who are quite active in legal/privacy issues on Twitter. And what info does the DOJ want on them? Well, basically everything: [users' names, addresses, IP addresses associated with their time on Twitter, phone numbers and credit card or bank account numbers.] That's a fair bit of information. Why the hell would the DOJ want all that? Would you believe it appears to be over a single tweet from someone to each of those five individuals that consists entirely of a smiley face? I wish I was kidding. Here's the tweet and then I'll get into the somewhat convoluted back story. The tweet is up as I write this, but here's a screenshot in case it disappears. The Department of Justice's subpoena is intended to address allegations that Shafer, who has a history of spotting weak encryption and drawing attention to it, cyberstalked an FBI agent after the agency raided his home. Vanity Fair summarizes the incident: "In 2013, Shafer discovered that FairCom's data-encryption package had actually exposed a dentist's office to data theft. An F.T.C. settlement later validated Shafer's reporting, but in 2016, when another dentist's office responded to Shafer's disclosure by claiming he'd violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and broken the law, the F.B.I. raided his home and confiscated many of his electronics. Shafer was particularly annoyed at F.B.I. Special Agent Nathan Hopp, who helped to conduct the raid, and who was later involved in a different case: in March, he compiled a criminal complaint involving the F.B.I.'s arrest of a troll for tweeting a flashing GIF at journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who is epileptic. Shafer began to compile publicly available information about Hopp, sharing his findings on Twitter. The Twitter users named in the subpoena had started a separate discussion about Hopp, with one user calling Hopp the "least busy F.B.I. agent of all time," a claim that prompted Shafer's smiley-faced tweet."
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Justice Department Demands Five Twitter Users' Personal Info Over an Emoji

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  • by Anonymous Coward
  • They grab your info all the time for alleged copyright infringement. They're engaging in a public forum where literally anyone can read what they said--and that's the entire purpose of the medium. It's the electronic equivalent of speaking at full volume on a sidewalk. What expectation of privacy did they really have?

    I really don't see a problem with "requesting" information. The police can request your info from your phone calls, your bank account, and tons of other things _for the purpose of solving crime

    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @06:35PM (#55433421)

      TL;DR Basically, if you think you had an expectation of privacy to begin with, you're pretty much an idiot.

      Everyone else already knows who you are (see Facebook tracking people WITHOUT facebook accounts!), the people who are trying to stop criminals aren't magically the bad guys--any worse than the corporations who keep and sell your info in the first place.

      You can't leak data that was never gathered. You want privacy, use a service that's actually designed for privacy.

      You want a public forum? You're going to be... in a public forum. With no expectation of privacy.

      We can argue about how it should be in a "perfect world", but in the real world, that's the tradeoff. You either get massive exposure on Twitter, or, communicate with a tight-knit group on something actually secure like Tor, Signal, etc.

      "How dare someone know the things I said in public!" As if telling someone to kill their self on Twitter is some kind of sacred, protected right. (And dear God, is Twitter a big bucket of hatred.)

      • Your argument is pretty much "well it's all 0ublic anyway, so the government deserves all of our ip addresses and access logs for any site it pleases". Please give up all your own info voluntarily, and leave me out of your sick privacy-less fantasy for our country.
    • by naubol ( 566278 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @06:39PM (#55433451)
      Who cares about the fourth amendment, anyway. We should definitely give the federal government all of our personal information. Maybe install cameras for their viewing benefit in our living rooms? We definitely shouldn't allow anyone to be anonymous on the internet. Or, frankly, any public forum. We need video cameras on all the walmart corkboards right? Just in case it would be useful in solving a crime. Certainly, we can trust the federales to safeguard the bank account information of people who've offended the federales, at least until the democrats are in charge again and then it's probably time to complain about it, yes? Also, wtf is the point of a warrant anymore. It gets in the way of solving crimes, and punishing our political opponents, which soon will be considered the same thing anyway.
      • by mlyle ( 148697 )

        The fourth amendment mostly doesn't apply, sadly. After all, the fourth is about searches, and there was already a strong tradition in the common law of receiving ordinary business records, (including things one holds for other parties) by the weaker process of subpoena instead of search order. 19th century case law established firmly that if you put the information in the care of another (non-privileged) party that it must not be that sensitive anyways.

        This is one of the assumptions with the constitution

    • That's a huge leap away from thermally or x-ray scanning you inside your house,

      . . . that contract has already been outsourced to Amazon, but thanks for your interest.

      You may apply for other contracts at a later date.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @07:14PM (#55433595) Homepage

      Collecting data might not seem all that harmful but when it is used to create stupidly flimsy search warrants and the agent that hates you is first through the door, hot to shoot anyone for anything (I saw a bulge in his under shorts and when he reached for them, In emptied my magazine three times in order to stop him). Either that or the beat the piss out of you and your family and shoot your pets or they destroy your career with a security warning or they destroy you finances with a drawn out fake arse criminal trial and on it goes. When they go out of control, which it seems in this case they have, they can cause an extreme amount of damage to the people they target and in the end to the taxpayers who pay the fine for their corruption.

      People have every reason for extreme caution when low quality investigative agents, basically incompetents get on them and start fabricating reasons for legal attacks, fo what ever egoistic reasons those agents choose, whether it just be an easy target for career advancement (easy to fabricate evidence out of nothing and they lack the ability to defend themselves), to wanting to screw a particular persons and needing to get someone out of the way, to a straight up ego trip by destroying someone who has offended them.

      US law enforcement is widly out of control, there is every reason to fear any interaction with them and to avoid them as much as possible, they are shite and you people let them turn into shite, by going performance based (more arrest more advancement and better pay, numbers count not quality), specially hiring dumber people rather than smarter people because the dumber people last longer (because they are feeding a power ego trip), cheap ass moronic training (training them to be soldiers on a battlefield rather than police officers), protecting corrupt officers to save on civil suits (totally insane psychopathic capitalism right there). Then not giving a fuck because they will only beat up, kill and falsely imprison the poor because you are not poor (until the make you poor or don't recognise you as rich and treat you like the poor).

      • We've been worrying about the militarization of city police forces, but now we have the FBI and other national investigative forces quietly acquiring the powers of galactic overlords.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There are ways to fight this.

        You just have to understand you can't do it legally. You cannot go up against Law Enforcement in a court and expect to come out victorious. It just doesn't work that way in the US. Even if you have witnesses and video evidence, it doesn't matter. Police are never held accountable for their actions even in the face of overwhelming evidence. In the unlikely event the court rules in your favor, you're still fucked because the Brotherhood will make your life as miserable as they

      • People have every reason for extreme caution when low quality investigative agents, basically incompetents get on them and start fabricating reasons for legal attacks, fo what ever egoistic reasons those agents choose .....

        Not just a problem in the USA. The McCops in Scotland took a man's AKA paintball pictures removing context to paint him as a criminal []. What did it cost the man to defend himself in court, what was the cost to the government to bring a stupid case ? If a cop decides that he doesn't like you then you have to pay the price!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Kurt Eichenwald []

    Hahahahaha hahahaha hahahaha ha hahahaha hahaha HA!


  • Obligatory link (Score:5, Informative)

    by campuscodi ( 4234297 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @07:01PM (#55433557)
    Dissent's thoughts on the whole situation are just gold and provide a deep look at how the FBI is hiding evidence: []
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I, Spartacus, am the one who tweeted the emoji, rebelled against Rome, balefired Asmodean, fathered Anakin Skywalker and shot Thomas and Martha Wayne.

  • (my scared face)
  • by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @09:03PM (#55434157)

    The FBI is upset that someone collected public information about someone and compiled it in one place. Amazing.

  • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @09:44PM (#55434333) Homepage

    As I've pointed out in other related topics, treating people calling you and telling you about a problem YOU created. Geezeus, the guy is trying to help. And you treat him like a criminal... not cool. This is why criminals get the sploits. This crap right here is a huge part of the problem.

    And the criminal justice system following lockstep to prosecute someone trying to be helpful... well... when you get that bill for a few grand on a newly minted credit card in your name.. you know who to thank now.

  • by dizzy8578 ( 106660 ) * on Thursday October 26, 2017 @05:27AM (#55435439)

    Gen. Michael Hayden refused to answer question about spying on political enemies at National Press Club. At a public appearance, Bush's pointman in the Office of National Intelligence was asked if the NSA was wiretapping Bush's political enemies. When Hayden dodged the question, the questioner repeated, "No, I asked, are you targeting us and people who politically oppose the Bush government, the Bush administration? Not a fishing net, but are you targeting specifically political opponents of the Bush administration?" Hayden looked at the questioner, and after a silence called on a different questioner. (Hayden National Press Club remarks, 1/23/06)

    Landay: "...the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to violate an American's right against unreasonable searches and seizures..."

    Gen. Hayden: "No, actually - the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure."

    Landay: "But the --"

    Gen. Hayden: "That's what it says."

    Landay: "The legal measure is probable cause, it says."

    Gen. Hayden: "The Amendment says: unreasonable search and seizure."

    Landay: "But does it not say 'probable cause'?"

    Gen. Hayden [exasperated, scowling]: "No! The Amendment says unreasonable search and seizure."

    Landay: "The legal standard is probable cause, General -- "

    Gen. Hayden [indignant]: "Just to be very clear ... mmkay... and believe me, if there's any Amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. Alright? And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. The constitutional standard is 'reasonable'" ( h/t Dale)
    -- Knight-Ridder's Jonathan Landay questioned Gen. Michael Hayden at the National Press Club in January.

    ----Text of the 4th..

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      The key point that people consistently fail to understand is that a warrant is not just a piece of paper, or one of several ways to show that a search is "reasonable". It is instead synonymous with the legal authority to perform the search—or more generally, to overrule someone's property rights for the sake of law enforcement. No warrant equals no legal authority to make someone submit to a search or stand aside while law enforcement seizes their property. A law enforcement officer without a warrant

    • The constitutional standard is "reasonable". The other half of the amendment describes what's needed to get a warrant. With a warrant, all searches are reasonable. Without a warrant, the government has the burden of showing that the search is reasonable.

      If a police officer arrests you, the police officer will need to search you for weapons, and that's not the sort of thing that can wait for a warrant. Hence, the courts have held that it's reasonable to search someone for weapons upon arrest, and ther

  • confiscated many of his electronics.

    One electronic would be one electronic too many. Or should that be too much?

    I don't know. Aaaaaaaargh!

"Ask not what A Group of Employees can do for you. But ask what can All Employees do for A Group of Employees." -- Mike Dennison