Feds Gagged Google Over Wikileaks Warrants Because They Were 'Upset By The Backlash' To Similar Twitter Warrants

from the that's-not-how-it-works dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about how the feds got a warrant demanding all email and other information about three Wikileaks-associated reporters. While the warrants issued in 2012, Wikileaks only found out about it a few weeks ago when Google told them, saying that an earlier gag order had been partially lifted. Wikileaks lashed out at Google for not letting them know earlier. However, in response, Google has noted that it fought the request and that it was gagged from saying anything until now.
Google says it challenged the secrecy from the beginning and was able to alert the customers only after the gag orders on those warrants were partly lifted, said Gidari, a partner at Perkins Coie.

“From January 2011 to the present, Google has continued to fight to lift the gag orders on any legal process it has received on WikiLeaks,” he said, adding that the firm’s policy is to challenge all gag orders that have indefinite time periods.
But, much more interesting was a separate point made by the lawyer, Albert Gidari, over why the feds demanded the gag order:
According to Gidari, whose firm has represented both firms, Google’s delay was not the result of foot-dragging but of opposition from prosecutors who were upset by the backlash that followed the disclosure of their court orders to Twitter.


“The U.S. attorney’s office thought the notice and the resulting publicity was a disaster for them,” Gidari said. “They were very upset” about the prosecutor’s name and phone number being disclosed, he said. “They went through the roof.”
Gidari also claims that "Google litigated up and down through the courts trying to get the orders modified so that notice could be given."

If you don't recall, the feds attempt to get information from Twitter made headlines back in 2011 for trying to get access to Icelandic politician (and Wikileaks supporter) Birgitta Jonsdottir's account.

If it's true that this was truly the reason for the gag order, that is equal parts ridiculous, pathetic and dangerous. There are legitimate reasons for limited gag orders in specific cases at specific times. But a general, unending, broad gag order "because we don't like the backlash" is not one of them. At all. But that's what you get when there's no real oversight or pushback to the surveillance state.

Filed Under: backlash, free speech, gag order, surveillance, warrants
Companies: google, twitter, wikileaks

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    TD does not subscribe to that philosophy, or any philosophy for that matter, or so it appears, that cuts against the grain of what it openly advocates in so many of its stories that it tries to pass off as news versus what they actually comprise, editorial opinion.

    From the very beginning we have *always* said that we are an opinion site. That has never changed. Why do you lie?

    If you accept this as the reason without question, then you have fallen prey to intellectual laziness.

    Of course, what you leave out is that *you* do this same thing all the time on stories about stories that you happen to agree with. You had no problem with DHS seizing websites because they must be infringing. You had no problem with stories about patent trolls because patents are lovely in your demented world. You have no problem with the NSA's lies about surveillance because, surely, they are right.

    You are an out and out authoritarian lapdog. Yet you are the one who comes here and pedantically pretends that only you are so wise as to know what's really going on.

    And then you want to flat out LIE and pretend we claimed we're not providing an opinion? You're hilarious.

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