A district court judge in Virginia ruled Thursday that U.S federal investigators can collect the private records of three Twitter users as part of its investigation related to WikiLeaks. The judge also refused to unseal court documents that would indicate whether other Internet companies have been ordered to turn over their data as well.
The U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed Twitter in December 2010 in connection with an ongoing investigation of WikiLeaks. The subpoena requested all records and other information relating to Twitter accounts associated with WikiLeaks and a few of its current and former supporters.
Three WikiLeaks associates, Icelandic lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir, Dutch activist Rop Gongrjip and programmer Jacob Appelbaum, have been fighting the subpoena since January.
“Internet users don’t automatically give up their rights to privacy and free speech when they use services like Twitter,” said Aden Fine, staff attorney for the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “The government shouldn’t be able to get this kind of private information without a warrant, and they certainly shouldn’t be able to do so in secret. An open court system is a fundamental part of our democracy, and the very existence of court documents should not be hidden from the public.”
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