Court Rules Against Privacy in Battle Over Twitter Records
ACLU And EFF Plan To Appeal Ruling In Case Challenging Government
Attempt To Obtain Private Data in WikiLeaks Investigation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2011
Rachel Myers, ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Jeschke, EFF, (415) 436-9333 x 125; email@example.com
ALEXANDRIA – A federal magistrate judge in Virginia ruled today that the
government can collect the private records of three Twitter users as
part of its investigation related to WikiLeaks, and that those users and
the public can be prevented from seeing some of the documents that the
government submitted to the court to justify obtaining their records.
The court denied the government’s request to conduct the hearing in
secret, however, and the court made public all of the documents related
to the users’ legal challenge. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
and the American Civil Liberties Union plan to appeal the decision on
behalf of their client Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic parliamentarian.
These secret government demands for information about the subscribers'
communications came to light only because Twitter took steps to ensure
their customers were notified and had the opportunity to respond. The
ACLU and EFF also asked the court to make public any similar orders to
any other companies
"This ruling gives the government the ability to secretly amass private
information related to individuals’ Internet communications. Except in
extraordinary circumstances, the government should not be able to obtain
this information in secret. That's not how our system works," said Aden
Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology
Project. "If this ruling stands, our client may be prevented from
challenging the government’s requests to other companies because she
might never know if and how many other companies have been ordered to
turn over information about her."
"With so much of our digital private information being held by third
parties – whether in the cloud or on social networking sites like
Twitter – the government can track your every move and statement without
you ever having a chance to protect yourself," said EFF Legal Director
Cindy Cohn. "We're disappointed that the court did not recognize that
people using digital tools deserve basic privacy and that the government
should be required to meet a high standard before it demands private
information about you from the online services you use, be they Twitter,
Facebook, Gmail or Skype."
EFF and the ACLU plan to appeal the ruling on behalf of their client.
Today’s ruling and other information about the case are available online