Feds Demand Twitter Info on 3 Linked to WikiLeaks

How protected are tweets?
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2011 1:41 AM CST
Feds Demand Twitter Info on 3 Linked to WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media as he leaves Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London last week.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The feds have obtained a court order to grab Twitter account details from three tweeters—including a member of Iceland's parliament—linked to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The three—who also include a Dutch hacker and a US computer programmer—are blasting the order as an invasion of privacy. "What's at stake here is the ability to use the Internet freely and privately, without the government looking over their shoulder," said a spokesman for the ACLU. Assange called the move an "outrageous attack by the Obama administration on the privacy and free speech rights of Twitter's customers."

The order is not seeking content, thought it's conceivable the details could be used to access content. An assistant US attorney characterized obtaining such information as routine, saying it's "used in criminal investigations all over the country, every day." The order, signed by a Virginia judge, requires Twitter to release account details, IP addresses, user names, and sign-up information, reports the BBC. The order also calls for details of WikiLeaks' Twitter account, and that of army analyst Bradley Manning, who is suspected of leaking documents to WikiLeaks. The targets are all appealing. (More WikiLeaks stories.)

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