Court Decision Forcing Twitter To Give Up Info On Wikileaks Associates Challenged In Europe

from the jurisdictional-mess dept

You may recall that the US government has been seeking all sorts of info on some folks who were somehow connected to Wikileaks as a part of its grand jury investigation, using the obscure 2703(d) process, rather than a standard subpoena (the 2703(d) process has fewer privacy protections, of course). Last week, a US district court judge, Judge Liam O’Grady, said that Twitter should hand over the info (it’s believed that others have already handed over info as well).

It appears that at least one of those whose info is being sought, Icelandic Member of Parliament (MP) Birgitta Jonsdottir is now trying to challenge this in Europe, where privacy protections are much stronger. This could get interesting for a variety of reasons. While the US does not have such privacy laws, many companies in the US agree to abide by the basics of European privacy laws, in order to be allowed to offer service in Europe. It would be interesting to see what happens if the process in Europe says that Twitter can’t give up such info without violating European privacy laws. While I don’t think they could stop the handing over of the info (US company, US court…), I wonder if there could be further implications for Twitter, in that it may no longer be able to comply with European privacy rules. That might create quite a mess.

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Comments on “Court Decision Forcing Twitter To Give Up Info On Wikileaks Associates Challenged In Europe”

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Jay (profile) says:

Double standards...

That’s a pretty effective double standard they seem to have. The EU wants to punish US businesses with their laws, which they’ve done before, in order to send a message to the US.

While I honestly respect that they have better privacy than what our judges seem to advocate, it seems to me that we should criticize the laws that make Twitter need to collect information in the first place.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Double standards...

Indeed. Yet given the pervasiveness of “you’re wrong and here’s a list of AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM!” that I come across each day, it’s rather interesting. I actually had a debate with an American on how little the US is a democracy, and their actual words were, “so what? Europe isn’t a democracy either, but America is better at it than you.”

It’s bizarre, unhelpful and possibly insane.

masquisieras says:

Re: Not Really Double standards...

If you want operate in EU you must comply with EU law of course an EU company is probably already complying, while the american one will need to adapt and as such is more probable to run fool of it.

Here you have a EU citizen that give information while in the EU to a company operating in the EU and you are complaining because she is asking that EU law is respected?

FuzzyDuck says:

Re: Double standards...

It would work if it forced US companies to host their data about EU citizens in Europe, and thus outside of the reach of US authorities.

But Twitter seems to have been the most honest of the lot in this particular case actually asking for the secrecy to be lifted unlike Facebook for instance. As such Twitter is the last company that should be sued in Europe, she should sue Facebook instead.

anonymous says:

as, from what i understand, the US wants to be able to use it’s laws everywhere, will be interesting to see if EU laws can be used everywhere as well. if, on the other hand, US doesn’t want other countries laws to be used against it, why should US laws be applied against everywhere else? ‘good for goose is good for gander’ comes to mind!

A Guy (profile) says:

Where Is The Data Stored

It may be effective. It depends. Many companies are forced to keep all European information on European servers in order to comply with EU data privacy laws. A European court could order European employees to prevent any transfer and/or secure the server.

If the data is stored on American servers, the Europeans are out of luck.

Either way, I expect big legal trouble for Twitter unless it just hands over the information quietly and then just lies about it.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Where Is The Data Stored

AFAIK, companies aren’t forced to keep EU info on EU servers. Under the European data acts, companies are allowed to transfer data outside of the EU (to companies/locations not under EU law) provided they inform the users that their data “may” be transferred.

Fairly certain that there will be boilerplate in the ToS for twitter etc with that sort of disclaimer.

Getefix says:

Privacy in Iceland

When Icelanders insist on privacy, you know the issue must be important, because their social security numbers are public and contain your unencrypted birth date, anyone can find out the cost of your apartment or house easily through a website, and two weeks a year you can request the state tell you the salary of any individual.

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