Feeds

Feds win access to WikiLeakers Twitter account data

No Constitutional violations, judge says

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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.

Additional coverage from the Associated Press, CNET News, and Wired.com is here, here, and here. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.