www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Glenn Greenwald: DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several Wiki
Patrice Riemens on Tue, 11 Jan 2011 19:13:31 +0100 (CET)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Glenn Greenwald: DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers (Salon.com)


bwo IAC2009 list

original at:
http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/01/07/twitter/index.html
(http://bit.ly/fPXo7E )

The most interesting part is of course about all the other service
providers which probably also have been 'approached' by the DOJ, and have
not disclosed the such. Generally I think Twitter has acted remarkably
well in this. See also the <<principal suspect>>'s blog: 
http://rop.gonggri.jp


DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers
By Glenn Greenwald

(updated below - Update II - Update III)

Last night, Birgitta Jónsdóttir -- a former WikiLeaks volunteer and
current member of the Icelandic Parliament -- announced (on Twitter) that
she had been notified by Twitter that the DOJ had served a Subpoena
demanding information "about all my tweets and more since November 1st
2009."  Several news outlets, including The Guardian, wrote about
Jónsdóttir's announcement.

What hasn't been reported is that the Subpoena served on Twitter -- which
is actually an Order from a federal court that the DOJ requested -- 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 by the DOJ is sweeping in scope.  It 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.  It seeks all of
that information for the period beginning November 1, 2009, through the
present.  A copy of the Order served on Twitter, obtained exclusively by
Salon, is here.

The Order was signed by a federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District
of Virginia, Theresa Buchanan, and served on Twitter by the DOJ division
for that district.  It states that there is "reasonable ground to believe
that the records or other information sought are relevant and material to
an ongoing criminal investigation," the language required by the relevant
statute.  It was issued on December 14 and ordered sealed -- i.e., kept
secret from the targets of the Order.  It gave Twitter three days to
respond and barred the company from notifying anyone, including the users,
of the existence of the Order.  On January 5, the same judge directed that
the Order be unsealed at Twitter's request in order to inform the users
and give them 10 days to object; had Twitter not so requested, it would
have been compelled to turn over this information without the knowledge of
its users.  A copy of the unsealing order is here.

Jónsdóttir told me that as "a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee [of
Iceland's Parliament] and the NATO parliamentary assembly," she intends to
"call for a meeting at the Committee early next week and ask for the
ambassador to meet" her to protest the DOJ's subpoena for her records. 
The other individuals named in the subpoena were unwilling to publicly
comment until speaking with their lawyer.

I'll have much more on the implications of this tomorrow.  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.



UPDATE:  Three other points:  first, the three named producers of the
"Collateral Murder" video -- depicting and commenting on the U.S. Apache
helicopter attack on journalists and civilians in Baghdad -- were Assange,
Jónsdóttir, and Gonggrijp (whose name is misspelled in the DOJ's
documents).  Since Gonggrijp has had no connection to WikiLeaks for
several months and Jónsdóttir's association has diminished substantially
over time, it seems clear that they were selected due to their involvement
in the release of that film.  Second, the unsealing order does not name
either Assange or Manning, which means either that Twitter did not request
permission to notify them of the Subpoena or that they did request it but
the court denied it (then again, neither "Julian Assange" nor "Bradley
Manning" are names of Twitter accounts, and the company has no way of
knowing with certainty which accounts are theirs, so perhaps Twitter only
sought an unsealing order for actual Twitter accounts named in the Order).
 Finally, WikiLeaks and Assange intend to contest this Order.



UPDATE II:  It's worth recalling -- and I hope journalists writing about
this story remind themselves -- that all of this extraordinary probing and
"criminal" investigating is stemming from WikiLeaks' doing nothing more
than publishing classified information showing what the U.S. Government is
doing:  something investigative journalists, by definition, do all the
time.

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; if anything, given the limited information it has about
users, Twitter would seem one of the least fruitful avenues to pursue. 
But if other companies did receive and quietly comply with these orders,
it will be a long time before we know, if we ever do, given the
prohibition in these orders on disclosing even its existence to anyone.



UPDATE III:  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."  The DOJ's investigation of a
member of Iceland's Parliament -- as part of an effort to intimidate
anyone supporting WikiLeaks and to criminalize journalism that exposes
what the U.S. Government does -- is one of the most extreme acts yet in
the Obama administration's always-escalating war on whistleblowers, and
shows how just excessive and paranoid the administration is when it comes
to transparency:  all this from a President who ran on a vow to have the
"most transparent administration in history" and to "Protect
Whistleblowers."


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: http://mail.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} kein.org