Feeds

Judge OKs feds' access to WikiLeakers Twitter info

Rebuffs constitutional challenges

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A federal judge in Virginia has given investigators access to the Twitter records of four WikiLeaks associates, including the email addresses associated with the accounts and the IP addresses used to access them.

Friday's decision by US Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan, rejected arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation that the request for records violated federal law and Free Speech and Privacy rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. She also denied the groups' request to unseal investigators' application seeking the data from Twitter.

“The Twitter Order does not demand the contents of any communication, and thus constitutes only a request for records under §2703(c),” Buchanan wrote, referring to a provision of the 1994 Stored Communications Act that permits the prosecutors to obtain contact details, IP addresses and other information related to records stored online. “The Twitter Order does not demand the contents of any communication, and thus constitutes only a request for records under §2703(c).”

Because the government wasn't seeking the actual content of the WikiLeaks associates' posts, they had no standing to petition the request seeking their records, Buchanan said.

The ruling came in an ongoing criminal investigation the feds are carrying out on Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks supporters. It involves prosecutors' request for the Twitter records of Assange; Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of Iceland's Parliament; Jacob Appelbaum, a US-based WikiLeaks volunteer; Dutch activist Rop Gonggrijp; and Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who is being held in solitary confinement on suspicion he leaked classified documents to the whistle blower site.

Buchanan rejected arguments made by the ACLU and the EFF that the application to turn over the individuals' Twitter records infringed their First Amendment rights to Free Speech.

“Petitioners, who have already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available, fail to explain how the Twitter Order has a chilling effect,” she wrote.

She went on to say the request didn't violate the Twitter users' Fourth Amendment rights because they had no reasonable expectation of privacy for information they freely gave to Twitter.

Buchanan also rebuffed a request by the ACLU and EFF to unseal the government's motion to unseal records in the case that could have laid out its legal justification for obtaining the Twitter account information and disclosing ISPs and other websites that may also have been secretly ordered to turn over information related to WikiLeaks supporters.

The feds' dragnet was revealed in January, when Twitter sought permission from the court to notify its users that their information was being sought by investigators.

Attorneys from he ACLU and EFF plan to appeal the ruling.

Legal analysis of Buchanan's order is available here from Eric Goldman's Technology and Marketing Law blog. ®

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?