Kudos To Twitter For Not Just Rolling Over When The US Gov't Asked For Info

from the nice-to-see dept

While plenty of companies (cough AT&T cough), seem to bend over backwards to give the government more info than is required by law, it’s nice to see that Twitter was willing to push back a bit. We’ve already covered the feds demand for info from Twitter concerning various folks associated with Wikileaks, but I wanted to do a separate post pointing out that it appears Twitter stood up and fought for its users’ rights, when it could have easily just backed down. The details suggest that the court order was initially issued under seal on December 14th, giving Twitter just three days to hand over the info. Yet, last week, for unclear reasons, the magistrate judge allowed the seal to be removed, at which point Twitter reached out and notified the users, to see if they wanted to use the legal system to fight the demand for info (it appears most, if not all, are planning to do so). Lots of companies don’t go nearly that far, so it’s worth highlighting that Twitter appears to have gone above and beyond to protect its users’ privacy. Of course, it also makes you wonder who else the feds issued similar orders to… and who just handed over the info.

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Companies: twitter, wikileaks

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Comments on “Kudos To Twitter For Not Just Rolling Over When The US Gov't Asked For Info”

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23 Comments
Drizzt says:

Twitter being able to push back ? big thanks to Nick Merrill

As has been pointed out by various others already: the reasons why Twitter could push back in the recent Wikileaks case is largely due to the fight of Mr. Merrill about which he talked at last years CCC (video (MP4)/audio only (Ogg/Vorbis)). He set the precedence, and if I’m informed correctly the USA use a case-law system. So the praise should be equally spread between Twitter using the available tools and Mr. Merrill for creating them.

Cheers,
Drizzt

Hephaestus (profile) says:

This seems to be the year that the US Government will try to quash the 1st amendment and privacy on the internet.

I wonder if this will work out better for the US government than it did for the record labels. I some how doubt it. With RIAA and the labels you had an annoyance. With the US government you have a world superpower that is a threat to the first amendment and free speech on the internet. Confiscating domain names, shutting down peoples access to financial services, violating the first, fourth, and fourteenth amenedments of the constitution, calls for the assasination of the head of a foreign news organization. All in all power blatantly abused at the highest levels of government.

With RIAA and the labels actions we have seen a slow gradual change in technology. With the US government getting involved in online affairs I expect to see a huge, and very fast increase in encryption usage and distributed systems. The words “Wake Up Call” come to mind.

I wonder who will win this battle over free speech, freedom to express our thoughts, and privacy on the internet? The billions of us or couple tens of thousand of them.

Drizzt says:

Twitter being able to push back ? big thanks to Nick Merrill

Then the right answer ? if you’re a American citizen or more precisely: plan to deploy something (web-based) in the USA ? is, to seek out enterprises like those of Mr. Merrill and support them by doing business with them.

Just to make sure: I’m not affiliated in any kind with Mr. Merrill and would deem any other service provider going to the same lengths to protect the data of its customers an equal.

To me, it seems, the main problem with all systems is, that sooner or later somebody will come along and offer you to make a complex system easily usable/understandable. That is generally the point where you need to watch out the most because it is the time when “they” (which in the end, sooner or later, comes back to “the powers that be”, even though they had different names over the centuries) try to take back control.

Cheers,
Drizzt

P.S.@Mike: Can you change your software not to add multiple “Re: “s to the subject line? That is totally wrong, because the “Re” doesn’t stand for “reply”. Thanks!

Thamios says:

This seems to be the year that the US Government will try to quash the 1st amendment and privacy on the internet.

“Calls for the assassination of the head of a foreign news organization”

State your source, please. Stuff like this just makes you sound insane, and without sources for this kind of thing, no one will listen to you.

The rest won’t really argue with, though.

Bas Grasmayer (profile) says:

You know what happens when you stand up? You get gagged.

This thing has been going on for a lot longer. The mistake they made is doing it via DOJ instead of via the FBI. I recently saw a speech by a guy at a hacker conference, who had had a similar request from the FBI, but was gagged. He would not even have been able to inform anyone in his company that he would be giving out information. He protested it, went to court, etc. but before he could win, the FBI withdrew their request, but the gag remained!

Here is the case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6xsv4azzpc

“My name is Nicholas Merrill and I was the plaintiff in a legal case in the US court system where I challenged the FBI’s policy of using a feature of the so-called USA PATRIOT act – what are called “National Security Letters” – to bypass the American Constitution’s system of checks and balances and in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights – in order to obtain protected personal information and to unmask anonymous Internet users. I spent over 6 years not able to speak to anyone (other than my lawyers) about my case – forced to lie to those closest to me due to an FBI gag order that carried a possible 10 year prison sentence for violating it.”

Mike, you really need to see this. As does everyone else. This DOJ subpoena really reminds me of this particular case. It’s terrible.

Spointman says:

Twitter being able to push back ? big thanks to Nick Merrill

Wikipedia says:

# RE: or “Re:” followed by the subject line of a previous message indicates a reply to that message.

* re (the ablative of res ‘thing’) has been used in English since the 18th century to mean ‘in the matter of’, ‘referring to’, or ‘about’.[1] In business letters and memoranda, “Re:” may be used instead of “Subject:” to set off the topic.[2]. However, “Re” in e-mail is used only for replies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RE_%28e-mail%29

Hephaestus (profile) says:

This seems to be the year that the US Government will try to quash the 1st amendment and privacy on the internet.

“State your source, please. Stuff like this just makes you sound insane, and without sources for this kind of thing, no one will listen to you.”

Big Al is right Jullian Assange. I choose to combine two seperate pieces of information into one statement. Fox, cnn, msnbc, and several other stations have called jullian assange a news man, reporter, or journalist. This was after those same new organization had guests, politicians and their own comentators call for the assasination of Jullian Assange. I hope that clarifies it for you. 😉

Drizzt says:

Twitter being able to push back ? big thanks to Nick Merrill

Somebody quoted WP already, but I had more RFC 5322 in mind (yes, that’s the RFC for e-mails, but as the structure of the comment system here is pretty close to an e-mail and this multiple Re thing was also shown by some MUAs in the past, I assumed, that the Re here is the same as in e-mails). The relevant part reads:

When used in a reply, the field body MAY start with the string “Re: ” (an abbreviation of the Latin “in re”, meaning “in the matter of”) followed by the contents of the “Subject:” field body of the original message.

Therefore one Re is more than enough. 😉

Cheers,
Drizzt

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