A US district court has ruled that the government is allowed to order Twitter to “open up” the social-network accounts of three WikiLeaks associates. The people in question are Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp and Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, all of whom have been involved as WikiLeaks volunteers.
Judge Liam O’Grady ruled that using Twitter meant that the account holders had no reasonable expectation of privacy; at the same time, he declined their petition to view the government’s request that led to their account information being sought in the first place. O’Grady stated: “The information sought was clearly material to establishing key facts related to an ongoing investigation and would have assisted a grand jury in conducting an inquiry into the particular matters under investigation.” The ongoing investigation, of course, pertains to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning.
Jonsdottir for one, is not taking the ruling lying down. “With this decision, the court is telling all users of online tools hosted in the US that the US government will have secret access to their data,” Jonsdottir said in a statement.
“This is a huge blow for everybody that uses social media,” the Guardian quoted her as saying. “We have to have the same civil rights online as we have offline. Imagine if the US authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers. There would be a hell of a fight. It’s absolutely unacceptable.” She has vowed to ask the European Council to act on the matter. We wish her success – for all our sakes. DM
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