Moral Outrage
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American Government subpoenas Twitter records of WikiLeaks volunteers

Birgitta Jónsdóttir — a former WikiLeaks volunteer and current member of the Icelandic Parliament — announced that she had been notified by Twitter that the American Department of Justice (DOJ) had served a Subpoena demanding information “about all my tweets and more since November 1st 2009.”

The Subpoena seeks the same information for numerous other individuals currently or formerly associated with WikiLeaks, including Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp, and Julian Assange. It also seeks the same information for Bradley Manning and for WikiLeaks’ Twitter account.

The information demanded includes all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the “means and source of payment,” including banking records and credit cards. The Order gave Twitter three days to respond and barred the company from notifying anyone, including the users, of the existence of the Order.

Suffice to say, this is a serious escalation of the DOJ’s efforts to probe, harass and intimidate anyone having to do with WikiLeaks. Previously, Appelbaum as well as Bradley Manning supporter David House — both American citizens — had their laptops and other electronic equipment seized at the border by Homeland Security agents when attempting to re-enter the U.S.

And the key question now is this: did other Internet and social network companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) receive similar Orders and then quietly comply? It’s difficult to imagine why the DOJ would want information only from Twitter.

Iceland’s Interior Minister, Ögmundur Jónasson, described the DOJ’s efforts to obtain the Twitter information of a member of that country’s Parliament as “grave and odd.” While suggesting some criticisms of WikiLeaks, he added: “if we manage to make government transparent and give all of us some insight into what is happening in countries involved in warfare it can only be for the good.”

[ Salon ]

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3 Responses to “American Government subpoenas Twitter records of WikiLeaks volunteers”

  1. WikiLeaks said in a statement. “Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into Wikileaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain.”

    According to WikiLeaks, other than Assange, the three other people whose accounts had been subpoenaed had never worked for the site.

    “Two were instrumental in helping WikiLeaks bring the Collateral Murder video — which showed a US helicopter crew celebrating as they gunned down civilians — into the public domain,” WikiLeaks said.

    The April 2010 release of the classified video, which shows a US Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed several people in 2007, helped push WikiLeaks into the global spotlight.

  2. The BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones poses the question: Should social networks disclose such information to governments?

    Twitter has been keen to stress that it complies with local laws, says Mr Cellan-Jones, but it has also been eager to promote Twitter’s role as “a forum for free expression” in countries like Iran.

    The correspondent asks: “If confidential details of overseas Twitter users are disclosed to the US authorities, how keen will an international audience be to trust this or other American social networks in future?”

  3. Am writing a thesis on Public Trust in WikiLeaks, the Media and the Government and need to know what your opinions are. The online survey is multiple choice and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Please follow the link: http://www.kwiksurveys.com/?s=ILLLML_9669e09d


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