Iceland Officials Ask US To Explain Why It's Trying To Get Lawmaker's Twitter Info

from the overstepping-bounds dept

On Friday, we noted that US officials had sent a court order (not a subpoena, apparently) to Twitter, asking for info from a few accounts that had some association with Wikileaks, including that of Icelandic lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir. Apparently, Icelandic officials are not too happy about this. They've asked the US ambassador to Iceland to explain the reasoning for this:
"(It is) very serious that a foreign state, the United States, demands such personal information of an Icelandic person, an elected official," Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson told Icelandic broadcaster RUV.

"This is even more serious when put (in) perspective and concerns freedom of speech and people's freedom in general," he added.
Of course, we might not find out what was said until Wikileaks (or some other operation) leaks a new batch of State Department cables a few years down the road...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Business as usual.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 7:40am

    This is getting funny....

    My government is getting funny to watch. It's as if they were playing football and can't adapt to new rule changes. As if the NFL came out and stated that from now on pass interference was legal, but the US just keeps launching the ball down the field and complaining that their receivers are getting mugged.

    Stupid playoffs, making me think that everything is football....

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:12am

      Re: This is getting funny....

      Someone should graph the trend in sports analogies supplanting car analogies relative to the seasonal climaxes of the various sports.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        MrWilson, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:53am

        Re: Re: This is getting funny....

        You know who did graph the trend in sports analogies supplanting car analogies relative to the seasonal climaxes of the various sports? The Nazis!

        I'll see your car analogy and raise you a Godwin's Law!

         

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    •  
      icon
      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:28am

      Re: This is getting funny....

      Its more like the US is playing US football, and the rest of the world is playing what they call football (soccer). Truth be told, everyone know this is about making an example of wikileaks.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Adam, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:15am

        Re: Re: This is getting funny....

        Actually I see it more as the US is playing football when the rest of the world is playing Rugby. We come home crying with our noses broken while they just laugh from the sidelines.

        Our government is making a fool out of itself either way.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 10:15am

        Re: Re: This is getting funny....

        Your comment pretty much sums up american foreign policy attitude. Doesn't really matter that the rest of the World calls soccer Football, you of course are right, and screw the rest....

         

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        Richard (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re: This is getting funny....

        Actually Assange is an Australian - so he would be playing Aussie rules football (commonly called Aussie no rules football). So you can see how that is likely to turn out.

         

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    •  
      icon
      interval (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:41am

      Re: This is getting funny....

      Pretty good analogy there,..

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 7:53am

    Terrorist do not hate our freedoms, our fucken government does.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    "They've asked the US ambassador to Iceland to explain the reasoning for this"

    Because we want to know the information and if you don't tell us we'll kick your frozen asses all over the playground.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:11am

    This is the sort of thing that makes me laugh. Asking the ambassador what is happening is sort of like asking the janitor. Neither of them are going to know, because they would not be privy to the information in an ongoing criminal investigation.

    The Icelandic citizens needs to understand that when they use a US based system, they are subject to US laws, and that includes the judicial power to supoena almost any sort of information that the courts feel are relevant to the investigation, with the investigators showing reason to do so.

    It is really a non-starter.

    I also have to say I find it funny to watch all sorts of people related to Wikileaks scurrying like roaches when they think their discussions might be made public. They should live up to the same standards they apply to other people. If they did nothing wrong, they shouldn't care. Transparency, you know?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      First, the Ambassador has the ear of the people in the US who can get the information. Mr. Luis E. Arreaga might not have personal knowledge of the reasons, but he's hardly a janitor.

      Second, these discussions are already public--they're on Twitter.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re:

        I believe the point of the subpoena was "and any private messages they sent each other too".

        If two people are mutual friends on Twitter, it IS possible for them to message each other privately.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It isn't clear that private messages on a system like twitter are really private, nor would there be any great expectation of privacy involved. Already, they are giving them to a third party (twitter), and have no control over them. I suspect there is no issue here.

          The biggest issue I suspect is that they have something to hide, and they are scrambling not to get caught with their info leaked.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It isn't clear that private messages on a system like twitter are really private, nor would there be any great expectation of privacy involved. Already, they are giving them to a third party (twitter), and have no control over them
            What does giving to a third party have to do with it?
            Opening someone's hard-copy mail with intent to read their private correspondence is a felony. As I recall from the last time I used a mail-carrier, it was necessary to give the letter to a 3rd party.

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 10:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The mail has laws. You are giving a sealed envelope with an expectation of privacy for what is inside of it. You cannot stop anyone from looking at the outside of it.

              Messages in the twitter system are not sealed, there is no way to know who would read them. It isn't a secured system.

               

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              •  
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 11:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                The mail has laws. You are giving a sealed envelope with an expectation of privacy for what is inside of it. You cannot stop anyone from looking at the outside of it.
                Messages in the twitter system are not sealed, there is no way to know who would read them. It isn't a secured system.
                Your arguments fail when held up against both recent and more distant US case-law.
                Just last month, the 6th Court of Appeals held that paper mail, email and telephone calls were essentially equivalent from the standpoint of the 4th Amendment. This conclusion was based on the idea that there is an expectation of privacy in all of these.

                You seem to consider the gum on an envelope a "secured system". Perhaps the steam in my iron would disagree with you.
                Be that as it may however, a POTS telephone certainly is not a secured system, as your voice is sent over wires in an unencrypted analog form. Despite this nonsecure system, according to Katz v. United States, 1967 a person using a public telephone has an expectation of privacy. Note that in 1967, party lines were not only common-place, they were standard. Certainly a party telephone line could not be considered a "secured system".

                Finally, the initial sentence in your comment. "The mail has laws." seems to imply that you believe that since there isn't much written law which has explicitly dealt with electronic communication that as a prosecutor, you have free rein to do as you please. It would be easy to surmise that you have little respect for the spirit of these constitutional protections.
                I would suggest that neither the prosecutor nor the defense lawyer who use technicalities to advance their case at the expense of justice are worthy of respect.

                 

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                •  
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:13pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Twitter is not a system where anyone has any expectation of privacy. It is a public posting forum where most people take a semi-private message and re-tweet it for fun. There is no indication anywhere that any message is truly private.

                  The "gum on the envelope" isn't the key to it being a "secure system", it's it how people look at that system. Sealing the envelope is an indication of a desire for privacy. People handling the mail see the outside, but they do not see what is on the inside.

                  The US mail has very specific laws which apply to it (and a whole police force to enforce those laws). An expectation of privacy is reasonable.

                  As for the 6th circuit rulings, they apply at this point only to that circuit and don't align with other judgements and other cases. Until enough momentum comes on the subject, this is likely to remain a split area in case law. Someone will come up with a case strong enough to take it to the top court, and perhaps at that point we will get a ruling. Until then, there is nothing definitive, it is all subject to change without notice.

                   

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                  •  
                    icon
                    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 11:17pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Twitter is not a system where anyone has any expectation of privacy.

                    Citation needed when it comes to private conversations between two parties.

                     

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                  •  
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2011 @ 7:30am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    The fact that it is possible to retweet doesn't mean that private messages can't be considered private.
                    Forwarding a private tweet isn't any different than forwarding a private paper letter, its just can be forwarded faster.

                    Also, where did you get the term "semi-private". That doesn't come from Twitter itself.

                     

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                  •  
                    identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2011 @ 7:49am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "The "gum on the envelope" isn't the key to it being a "secure system", it's it how people look at that system. "
                    You are exactly correct on this point, and that is precisely the basis of the 6th Circuit ruling.
                    The 6th Circuit essentially stated that the average person doesn't expect that someone other than the intended recipient is going to open their email and read it.

                    Try to answer this question honestly: How would you feel if a colleague or co-worker sat down at your desk and started reading through your email?
                    I dare say that most any of us would feel that our privacy was violated by that.
                    The fact that communication is electronic doesn't change our individual sense of that people should be able to share private messages.

                    In the paper letter days, it was possible to write in code, and it was possible to write in plain English.
                    Which do you think was more common?
                    Do you think that only the messages written in code were expected to be private?
                    Hardly.

                    I think the problem is that you seem to be conflating the words "secure" and "private". A paper letter is not secure. It is private.
                    In the same way, unencrypted electronic communication is not secure. Nonetheless it is expected by the parties to be private.

                     

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      •  
        identicon
        BBT, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:44am

        Re: Re:

        Bender: How does one become a janitor?

        Carl: You wanna be a janitor?

        Bender: No, I just wanna know how one becomes a janitor because Andrew here, is very interested in pursuing a career in the custodial arts.

        Carl: Oh, really? You guys think I'm just some untouchable peasant? Peon? Huh? Maybe so, but following a broom around after shitheads like you for the past eight years I've learned a couple of things; I look through your letters, I look through your lockers...I listen to your conversations, you don't know that but I do. I am the eyes and ears of this institution my friends. By the way, that clock's twenty minutes fast.

         

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    •  
      icon
      justok (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      Janitors often know more than you think. A better analogy would be asking a manager.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:30am

      Re:

      I find it funny that you still don't know the difference between the privacy of individuals and the privacy of a governing body. The latter is a totally alien concept: The actions of the government actions being secret goes against everything that is sane in a democracy, where the people should be able to voice their opinion (if matters are kept secret, there is no way to voice an opinion, thus killing Democracy).

      There are only a few rare cases where I would admit secrecy, but secrets should be disclosed as soon as possible, with full disclosure as to why they were kept secret in the first place.

      So, yes, transparency for the matters of the government. We put them there because we trust them, but they don't trust us enough to let us know what is going on?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re:

        I think transparency in the case of wikileaks is of the utmost importance. They are playing games, trying to hide their information, their involvement, while getting their jollies exposing others.

        They need to all come forward, release all of their own information, and show that transparency is really good for everyone.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The Government should go first. It is their job to create, obey and uphold the laws of the country and the principles of freedom and democracy. They have failed, therefore, they have no right to demand that others do so.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          They need to all come forward, release all of their own information, and show that transparency is really good for everyone.

          So says the anonymous coward...

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            so points out the equally anonymous coward.

            Way to go, trying to deflect. Just makes me know I am right.

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 11:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Deflection? Nah, I just found it funny that an anonymous coward would be calling for greater transparency (for others, obviously)

               

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          •  
            identicon
            BBT, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Your point would be relevant if the position of Wikileaks/Wikileaks supporters were that transparency is always good and nothing should be private.

            It isn't, so your point is just irrelevant babbling.

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 11:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              No, their opinion is "do as I say, not do as I do". Assange has more skeletons in his closet, I am sure. The icelandic politician was a past Anarchist (and perhaps still is). There is potential she was involved with groups who have attacked things like the G8 / G20 meetings.

              See? Who is actually stirring the pot? Don't you think we need to know? Don't you think perhaps there is a whole political agenda behind Wikileaks? Is this perhaps the political arm of the Pirate Party?

              See? Transparency is absolutely critical, just not for them. If they were transparent, perhaps few people would pay attention to them.

               

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              •  
                icon
                Qyiet (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 1:31pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                See? Transparency is absolutely critical, just not for them. If they were transparent, perhaps few people would pay attention to them.

                I think you are somewhat misguided as how 'whistle blowing' works. The deal is this: If you tell a whistle blowing organisation something that you feel the public needs to know, but you can't tell them directly because you fear for your job/life/whatever they will never give even a hint as to where the information came from.

                If any organisation that wants to help people blow the whistle on anything DOES give up this information it loses all credibility to anyone else who was considering releasing information for the public good.

                So contrary to your thesis a lack of transparency is essential to wikileaks operation.

                 

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    •  
      identicon
      herbert, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      so what US system are the Iclanders using that makes them subject to US law then? from what you say, it would mean that everywhere in the world that is using the same system, is subject to US laws. i dont think so!

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:31am

    As if the NFL came out and stated that from now on pass interference was legal, but the US just keeps launching the ball down the field and complaining that their receivers are getting mugged.

    Kind of like Olympic (International) basketball?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    The US government is hilarious. I'm so glad they're not my government.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Michael, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:11am

      Re:

      The US government is pretty likely to be pulling the strings on the marionette you call a government.

       

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    •  
      icon
      interval (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 9:43am

      Re:

      Funny. You must come from a country where the government knows what its doing. As far as I know the last efficient government was Nazi Germany.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

      Re:

      Im embarrassed they are mine. We the people should be replaced with we the corporations. Its sad but every american is to blame for this state of affairs.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 10:02am

    Telling lies and keeping secrets is just a part of the human psychology. Society cannot function without deception - try to be completely honest for just 1 day and tell people precisely the way you feel and think at that exact instance and your wound to be disowned by your family, loose damn near all your friends, and probably get fired from your job. People quite generally cannot handle blatant honesty.

    So it becomes as issue of the intent behind the deception, and when regarding the secrecy of government it's almost always 99.999999% of the time because something is illegal. They can say all they want it's for your safety and security - but keeping people in the dark is the surest way to ensure mutual destruction.

    A Democracy is meant to be BY the people, FOR the people. Any democratic government should be as transparent as possible so it's citizens can make the most informed decisions based upon the best available information. Purposefully stymieing that ability has been the agenda of the US government since it's inception. Wealthy merchants and business men have pulled its strings since day 1 and will always continue to do so, because they created the statues under which the operations are executed.

    The United States is anything but a democracy, if for no other reason - we as a nation have a deplorable voter turn-out rate. If we get more than 20% of the population to go to the polls that's considered a great turn-out. Truth of the matter is people of the this country won't get involved even when it directly affects their day-to-day living. Hell, we can't even raise taxes to save our own asses from ridiculous national debt that depreciates the value of our own currency.

    What the country does have - is a congress that serves it's own interests and those of major corporations. It's the reason we're fighting two wars in the middle-east, Halliburton get's trillions of dollars in defense contracts and the united states get's to control the world's largest heroin producing nation. Afghanistan's economy is entirely dependent upon the production of opium and to think it would be shut-down is a good laugh.

    So when a nation such as ours begins to meddle in the affairs of other nations they have every right to be outraged, every right to say "Fuck you and fuck off" because we don't have any business violating the rights of another nations citizens - that's called an act of war. If foreigners wish to use the services of a United States based institution (WikiLeaks) then it becomes a simple issue of whether that institution is allowed to conduct business internationally. If so, then the only legal actions that can be brought against those foreigners are from that institution itself if it's users break it's user-license agreement. Aside from that any illegal activity will be subject to the laws of the country in which the user is living.

    To say the United States has any business or right to demand information from a different countries citizen is just the most asinine, ignorant, dumb-fuck of the year recipient kind of statement. The only legality we have is in regard to the company itself based on our soil, and those citizens on our soil which so happen to use the services of that company. If that company wishes to conduct business over-sea's then its up to the hosting nation to set it's own legal terms for conduction business within it's territory and can only persecute it's own citizens for violations of those statutes.

    Supporting the notion that our government should be allowed to persecute an individual because it violated a civil infraction of a different nations laws is supporting the notion that a radical extremist Islamic government should be allowed to stone all our women to death for public indecency.

    The United States has absolutely no right what-so-ever in trying to pry into the private affairs of a foreign citizen - just as any foreign nation has no right to pry into ours.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    I see what is coming next...

    ICE takes out Twitter for "infringement"

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    http://hurryupharry.org/2010/12/10/birgitta-jonsdottir-wikileaks-david-icke-and-neo-nazi-radio/

    T his blog is sort of interesting. Nice to see this member of the Icelandic Parliament sitting right next to Julian Assange. I would say that the authorities are bang on to look at her involvement in the whole situation, as she or her operatives could be the "middle men" between Assange and Manning.

    Maybe TD would like to look further into these sorts of things, rather than wasting their time on discussing spelling errors?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    sam sin, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    USA still saying one thing (condemning the interference by governments into private citizens data, freedom of speech etc, just as Clinton is doing over Tunisia), then doing the opposite. nothing less than hypocritical!

     

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  •  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    the usa hasnt got his dna yet

    so they can clone him to be one of the space aliens minions out of area 51, also known as capital city( hey if i keep going i might have a good scfi movie)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Iceland Guy, Jan 22nd, 2011 @ 3:14am

    You never know

    It's hard to say what alterior motives people have, but I mean new technology like Twitter is susceptible to having data legislated or stolen from it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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