Home Court Orders Twitter to Turn Over User Info in Wikileaks Investigation

Court Orders Twitter to Turn Over User Info in Wikileaks Investigation

Last week a U.S. Justice Department court order was made public that directed Twitter to provide information on several of its users. The subpoena was made in conjunction with an investigation the U.S. Attorney General is making into the actions of the whistle-blower site Wikileaks and its leader, Julian Assange.

The document demands user information for “rop_g; ioerror; birgittaj; Julian Assange; Bradley Manning; Rop Gonggrijp; Birgitta Jonsdottir for the time period from November 1, 2009 to present.”

“ioerror” is the Twitter ID for Jacob Appelbaum, who spoke for Wikileaks at a conference last year. Jonsdottir is an Icelandic parliamentarian. All have been, associated, or alleged to be associates, of Assange.

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out on Salon, Appelbaum, Jonsdottir and Gonggrip were three of the producers of the video that showed a helicopter attack that killed Reuters journalists and others in Iraq. The relationship between Wikileaks and the latter two has quieted in recent months. Is the investigation possibly focusing on that incident above others?

Among the information demanded are names and user names, credit card and bank numbers, addresses, “connection records” (showing when they logged in and for how long) and telephone numbers.

Whether or not such a request is “right” it does appear to be legal and Twitter complies with legal requests as a point of policy.

However, the targets of the investigation have received warning, from Twitter, that their information has been subpoenaed. The judge made the subpoena public on January 5, as a result of Twitter’s request it be free to inform those of its users who were its targets. The company chose not to comply quietly, and has brought the situation into the open, where it can be debated.

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