Feds Subpoena Twitter For Info On Wikileaks-Supporting Icelandic Politician

from the fishing-expedition dept

In the feds continued efforts to find something (anything!) to charge Wikileaks with, its latest fishing expedition apparently involves issuing a subpoena to Twitter asking for info on the account of Birgitta Jonsdottir, a Member of Iceland’s Parliament, who had been instrumental in helping Wikileaks establish a strong free speech legal structure in Iceland. More recently, like many former Wikileaks’ supporters, she has distanced herself from the operation, due to disagreements over Julian Assange’s role in the organization. Apparently the subpoena is seeking everything she’s done on Twitter since November 2009 (presumably including private direct messages). Given all the recent talk questioning whether or not private emails stored on third party servers are protected under the 4th Amendment, it does make you wonder if the same applies to private direct messages as well. Jonsdottir is apparently planning to fight the subpoena, so we may just find out…

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Comments on “Feds Subpoena Twitter For Info On Wikileaks-Supporting Icelandic Politician”

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Doc Sheldon (profile) says:

Twitter subpoena

In an Icelandic court, I would certainly expect Jonsdottir to be supported completely in quashing the subpoena. Unfortunately, Iceland’s influence will probably be very limited in this case. EFF has has good folks on their legal team, so I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. That it’ll be a landmark decision seems pretty likely, though.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:


The court hasn’t ordered her to turn over any information, because it has no legal reason to do so. It’s not ordering a search of her property in any way. What it has done is subpoena Twitter for the records.

It’s not firmly established whether or not your private data held on external servers is protected by the 4th Amendment – if it is, this would count as unlawful search. I’ll leave it to those with more detailed legal knowledge to argue over whether it is, but it certainly seems like by the spirit of the 4th Amendment it would be.

G Thompson (profile) says:

So maybe myself as a representative of Australia should serve subpoenas upon Fox, CSPAN, et.al on any and all representatives of the USA. Congress, Senate and Executive branch alike, on their inducement to harm Julian Assange?

For the USA to go on a fishing expedition that involves criminal legal action against, and a subpoena is criminal legal action in this instance, another countries democratically elected lawmaker/parliamentarian who by the way would be covered under parliamentary privilege and diplomatic immunity if she was representing her constituents in these instances (that’s gunna be a fun one for the Feds) can be classified as a lot more than a breach of protocol and diplomatic privilege, it can be construed as interfering in another countries (who is also a member of NATO) parliament by intimidation etc.

Wars have been fought for less

Anonymous Coward says:


“if it is, this would count as unlawful search.”

If the court authorized it then this makes no sense. (if) It’s protected by the fourth amendment in that a court needs to authorize the release of the records. If the courts have authorized such a release then there is no violation of the fourth amendment. Who cares if the records are on Twitter or in within someones personal possession, the court authorized it regardless.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you use PUBLIC media for your PRIVATE things, then expect your PRIVATE things to be made PUBLIC. Simple as that. There are tons of (wayyy more) secure way to communicate. Just shows that people involved in technology often don’t understand it.

Plus, anyone doing anything to piss off the USA and using a platform hosted in the USA is basically an idiot.

PW (profile) says:

Fourth Amendment may not apply

As you can imagine, Twitter is-a-buzzin’ around this story. It might be helpful to note that the request for all information did not include the content of the messages. The Order specifically states among items that are being requested,
“non-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s); such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses.”
You can read the order for yourself at http://bit.ly/gyrdoH.

Declan McCullaugh fm cnet does delve into the 4th Amendment issues in his piece here: http://bit.ly/h6weTE. But I believe someone on Twitter pointed the issue of the request not being content. Importantly, he also notes the fact that while one federal appeals court has ruled on the need for a search warrant (as opposed to the Order issued by a Magistrate), this decision is not binding in Virginia or San Francisco, where the legal jockeying action is likely to take place.

Glenn Greenwald also has some worthwhile thoughts on the issue here: http://bit.ly/edyD2a.

Johnny says:


We should subpoena all information about US politicians, who have threatened Julian Assange with death. That’s a REAL crime.

As far as I am concerned the likes of Sarah Palin and Joe Liebermann should be arrested if they ever set foot in Europe.

If the US thinks its laws can apply to what people do in Europe, then our laws can apply to what people do in the US.

Obama is a BIG disappointment, we thought this kind of crap would be over with the departure of Bush, but it’s only getting worse! It’s out of control.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Another person

The US Justice Department has also laid claim on Dutch activist Rop Gongrijp’s Twitter account.

(sorry dutch article)

This is the US crossing boundaries and borders and actually looking into creating an international incident, only because it was caught with its pants down. Good old fashioned spite.

BuzzCoastin (profile) says:

Did eye miss something?

Good point about the IP addresses. However, if someone is doing something clandestine, they wouldn’t be using Twitter and would be using a VPN, at the very least; otherwise they would be flat-out incompetent. (Notice any CIA Tweets recently?)

This story strikes me as just another psy-op program to remind people that Big Brother is really watching. Why the program? Because they can’t really watch everyone and can barely watch those they want to watch.

BuzzCoastin (profile) says:

Did eye miss something?

Oh & this from your supplied link:
She said she had no idea why her Twitter account was of interest.
“I hope they don’t think I am so naive that I would be doing any sort of messaging through the Twitter board of any significance or (that would be) incriminating,” she said.
“This shows how nervous the U.S. government is,” she said. “I think this should be handled better. I have done nothing illegal.”

JackJersawitz (profile) says:


So you think Obama’s a big dissapointment?

You may double or triple that.

Some goon just shot up a bunch of people, a Federal Judge and such, and at least one pol who had been mapped and marked by non other than Sara Palin.

Clear incitement to murder under U.S. law. Should have been prosecuted before the shootings. You don’t map locations and post face shots with an ex across them marking them for elimination and claim that is not incitement to murder.

But Obama won’t tell Holder to prosecute her. What he will do is use it to justify a harsher crackdown on dissent and will seek to jail anyone who has had anything to do with WikiLeaks and Assange.

The deep economic crisis is now manifesting itself in an even,many fathoms deeper, social crisis.

Violations of the Fourth Amendment will be but the smallest piece of it. Forget asking a court for a subpoena or warrant.

Obama may well prove to be our own Hitler.


Anonymous Coward says:


Jack, if you own any guns, perhaps you want to leave them with someone else for a while for safe keeping. Your rhetoric is exactly the sort of thing that leads to this sort of violence.

You are making connections where none exist, the same way the shooter did. That is actually pretty scary.

You are what is wrong with US politics.

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