Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
data, privacy

Companies:
twitter



Judge Says Gov't Can Get Access To Twitter Account Data Of Wikileaks' Associates

from the data-vs-speech dept

Earlier this year, it came out that the government was seeking data from Twitter on various users who had some form of connection with Wikileaks. It's actually quite likely that other social media companies received similar orders for data and just handed it over, but Twitter actually fought to unseal the order demanding the data, so that it could inform those whose data was being sought. Once that came out, the EFF and ACLU teamed up to protest the government's data seeking. However, the judge has denied their attempts to block such data collection, saying that since the government is seeking data about the account, rather than information in the account, the individuals don't really have any case at all. The EFF and the ACLU plan to appeal. At this point, it seems unlikely that they'll prevail. It seems like the government tends to be given pretty wide latitude in these kinds of cases to get all sorts of info.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:10am

    If the judge doesn't allow it, he censors the government. Can't have that. Ever.

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

  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:22am

    Well I guess it is a good thing that Twitter has decided to make itself irrelevant then.

    Too bad for the precedent this sets though.

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

  • identicon
    GSMPedia, 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:37am

    yey

    +1 for the internet!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:40am

    EFF and ACLU can huff and puff and wave their arms around, but there isn't much to argue about here. The warrant only has to rise up to "probably cause" to be valid on it's face, and that only requires a tip, a suggestion, or even "leading information". That could be as little as the people in question exchanging posts on twitter, example.

    Probably cause isn't very hard to understand (even wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of the warrant process), I mean, even Mike could understand it (if he wanted to).

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:47am

      Re:

      You may want to check out the article on "probably cause" while you're on Wikipedia too.

      Oh wait.

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

    • icon
      weneedhelp (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:52am

      Re:

      Probably cause isn't very hard to understand.

      Appears more difficult to write though.

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

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:53am

      Re:

      Probably cause isn't very hard to understand (even wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of the warrant process), I mean, even Mike could understand it (if he wanted to).

      This is line is hilarious. You are chiding Mike for not understanding "probably cause" (twice in your comment no less) and I think the term you are really looking for is "probable cause". Just sayin.

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

    • icon
      The Groove Tiger (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 11:21am

      Re:

      I myself am more a fan of sorta-kinda-perhaps-actually-no-wait-almost-definitely cause.

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

    • icon
      The eejit (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 11:23am

      Re:

      Heh. The phrase you're looking for is 'Probable cause'. Moreover, how would you like it if you were one of these 'associates' whose info was being disclosed to governments without your consent? Just sayin'.

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

      • identicon
        coldbrew, 14 Mar 2011 @ 11:32am

        Re: Re:

        Would it be valid to assume that people that type "probably cause" do not speak English as their first language? This isn't the first time I've seen a comment from some AC speaking exactly like this. After the first few times I actually questioned my own understanding of the legal technicalities and specific language.

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

        • icon
          Gwiz (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 1:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Would it be valid to assume that people that type "probably cause" do not speak English as their first language?

          Yes, in most cases. And I usually give benefit of doubt.

          However, this AC (and I am assuming it's the same one) repeatedly uses "probably cause" really has no other problems with English, even as far as using slang and commonplace terms correctly in his comments.

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

    • identicon
      DCX2, 14 Mar 2011 @ 1:25pm

      Re:

      Methinks someone didn't bother reading about this debacle. The issue at hand is that they're trying to access this Twitter info without a warrant.

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

  • icon
    PW (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 10:53am

    Same as phone #s

    Actually, this ruling seemed consistent with gov't's access to LUDs, where they can find out the numbers dialed from a particular phone. However, the rationale given for this capability, whether w/phone #s or IP addresses, is worrisome to me. This idea that the fact that the phone company is a 3rd party in the transaction which then breaks the privacy expectation between the two parties communicating, creates all sorts of trust problems for cloud-based services.

    With analog phone calls, phone companies have not been recording phone calls (as far as we know ;). However, when you start to consider emails, or file hosting, or CRM systems, or... we begin to see the problem of having a 3rd party break the expectation of privacy. While the Stored Communications Act supposedly protects stored emails, this seems at conflict with the rationale given for providing LUDs or IP addresses. I guess this is yet another tension in our privacy laws.

    I'm hopeful that as encryption can be performed faster, we will see greater protection of content, not because of legislation, but because of technology. This won't solve the LUDs and IP address issue, but at least the content can be protected beyond the whims of politicians.

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

  • icon
    CK (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 11:10am

    The government can't, but Sony can? Shows where true political power lies these days.

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

  • icon
    Overcast (profile), 14 Mar 2011 @ 1:38pm

    "The issue at hand is that they're trying to access this Twitter info without a warrant."

    Indeed, and to do otherwise is to start a process where 'innocent until proven guilty' is no longer relevant...

    Not that we haven't already been going down that road for years.

    What a cesspool of a nation these current politicians and 'justice/law enforcement' excuses are making of the US (and other nations).

    The only reason any of these clowns exist is to enforce and protect the rights of the country's citizens. But somehow they spin it to doing 'this and that' is protecting rights or someone else, blah, blah, blah.

    Doesn't matter when they no longer follow the rule of law.

    The 4th amendment is quite clear - and if there's a doubt, it should fall upon anyone in politics or law-enforcement to adhere to the principles of our constitution, rather than be a lazy slob and find ways around it.

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

  • identicon
    Mr. Anderson, 14 Mar 2011 @ 9:40pm

    BS

    "However, the judge has denied their attempts to block such data collection, saying that since the government is seeking data about the account, rather than information in the account, the individuals don't really have any case at all."

    I remember reading a while ago that the government also wanted the account holders direct messages over Twitter. I believe that's asking to see what's "in" the account, not what's "about" the account.

    So in closing, I call total BS on the government their corrupt puppet Judge's ruling.

    ZOMG, the internetz is here! Run!

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


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