Judge Liam O’Grady of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria division, has ruled US federal investigators can access the private records of three Twitter users as part of a warrantless Wikileaks probe.
He “also blocked the users’ attempt to discover whether other Internet companies have been ordered to turn their data over to the government,” says the EFF, continuing the foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represent Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir who appealed an earlier ruling with Twitter users Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp. “With this decision, the court is telling all users of online tools hosted in the U.S. that the US government will have secret access to their data,” said Jonsdottir, going on: “People around the world will take note, and since they can easily move their data to companies who host it in locations that better protect their privacy than the US does, I expect that many will do so.
“I am very disappointed in today’s ruling because it is a huge backward step for the United States’ legacy of freedom of expression and the right to privacy.”
Jonsdottir and others found out about the government demands for information only because Twitter took steps to notify them of the court order.
Now the EFF says other companies should follow Twitter’s lead, stand with their customers, and promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government.
“The three are Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir (right), Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp and US computer programmer Jacob Appelbaum, all of whom know, or have worked with, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, said p2pnet recently, adding.
“But neither the three victims, nor the public, will learn exactly how the government gained access their records.