Home > General, Social Media > U.S. Government Wins Access to Twitter Accounts of WikiLeaks Supporters

U.S. Government Wins Access to Twitter Accounts of WikiLeaks Supporters

(Mashable) — A federal judge today granted the U.S. government access to the Twitter accounts of three of WikiLeaks’s strongest supporters.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice subpoenaed Twitter, asking the social media service to hand over information related to the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks and some of its supporters. The subpoena targeted Birgitta Jonsdottir, Rop Gongrijp and Jacob Appelbaum, known for their support and contributions to the whistle-blowing website.

In a 20-page opinion, Judge Theresa Buchanan rejected the arguments of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and attorneys representing the WikiLeaks backers, declaring that first and fourth amendment rights would not be violated by turning over Twitter account information to the government.

Buchanan did, however, make some of the case’s documents of the case public, though documents with “sensitive nonpublic facts, including the identity of targets and witnesses in an ongoing criminal investigation,” will not be included. Among the revelations from the unsealed documents: Twitter filed a motion last month requesting permission not to turn over data related to WikiLeaks’s official account, despite that WikiLeaks has made no objection to the government’s subpoena.

It’s unclear whether the order encompasses private messages sent by the WikiLeaks supporters. The government’s request for access is limited to content such as e-mail and IP addresses, but private Twitter messages could potentially come into play, which could spark another legal battle. The ACLU intends to appeal today’s ruling.

“Twitter’s policy is designed to allow users to defend their own rights. As such, Twitter will continue to let the judicial process run its course,” Twitter said in a statement to Mashable.

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