Feds win access to WikiLeakers Twitter account data
No Constitutional violations, judge says
US Justice Department investigators have won a hard-fought campaign to access the Twitter records of three current and former WikiLeaks associates, rebuffing arguments that the document demand violated the constitutional right to free speech and a prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In a 60-page opinion issued on Thursday, US District Judge Liam O'Grady in Alexandria, Virginia, upheld the request, which seeks the IP addresses and email addresses associated with the accounts, but not the actual messages conveyed in them or the Twitter users who follow the accounts. The decision upheld a ruling from March by a magistrate judge in the same district court.
Both decisions said a 1994 provision of the Stored Communications Act allowed the investigators to access the information without a warrant because it was relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation. The targeted Twitter account holders – who included Seattle programmer Jacob Appelbaum, Icelandic Parliament member Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Dutch businessman Rop Gonggrijp – renewed their criticism of the demand shortly after O'Grady's decision was released.
“With this decision, the court is telling all users of online tools hosted in the US that the US government will have secret access to their data,” Jonsdottir said in a statement. “People around the world will take note. I am very disappointed in today's ruling because it is a huge backward step for the United States' legacy of freedom of expression and the right to privacy.”
In court briefs submitted to O'Grady, attorneys for the three WikiLeaks supporters argued the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures required the investigators to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before accessing the records. They also said said forcing Twitter to turn over the information trampled on the users' rights to free speech and free expression. O'Grady rejected the arguments.
“The Twitter order did not violate the Constitution,” he wrote.
It's not clear if the targeted WikiLeaks supporters intend to appeal the decision to a higher court.
The ruling comes in the ongoing criminal investigation into whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and other supporters violated US law.
this is about warrantless access
The difference here is the argument that a warrant and probable cause are not needed, the defendents are arguing that the investigators should have a warrant.
So much for 1984....2011 is much worse in every possible way. And don't get me started on the ridiculous case against Assange. He might be crazy, but he is not guilty of anything.
@AC re: warrantless access...
Put down the crack pipe and pay attention.
THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WARRANT LESS ACCESS.
If you actually bothered to pay attention to the details of the case, rather than base your opinion on sound bites from the radical left press, you might actually try to understand what is happening.
First, there is this investigation in to how an alleged Manning stole classified documents and gave them to Wikileaks. Who/What/When/Where and how have to be established. At least to a point where a military tribunal can adjudicate this case against Manning.
As part of this investigation, there is an investigation as to the involvement of Wikileaks.
The important thing is that the DoJ had gotten LE Subpoenas for the information. Its not that it was a warrant less search but that instead of the company Twitter handing over the information, they notified the parties involved and allowed them to challenge the Subpoena.
That is the important fact that you don't seem to grasp. LE Subs are legal and can easily be abused. I know this first hand. However in this case. There is a specific investigation and the subpoenas are valid.
Its only a matter of time before the DoJ puts together the pieces.