The United States government is attempting to get a hold of users information on Twitter who are in connection with Wikileaks and Bradley Manning. The Department of Justice is also seeking account information for Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp and Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic MP who had ties to Julian Assange. The subpoena was originally sealed so that Twitter could not inform anyone, including the user in question, that they were being investigated. However Twitter appealed the courts decision and had the subpoena unsealed and promptly notified the users in question that they were required to turn over their information in 10 days. However it seems that the subpoena is not limited to just those named but also those who follow any of the individuals on Twitter.
According to several tweets by Wikileaks it is too late to unfollow them as the subpoena targets the dates, IP addresses and other account information of all who follow them. That means over 600,000 people are being investigated just for receiving tweets.
Without the help of Wikileaks and Twitter hundreds of thousands of Twitter users would have no idea that the government was looking into them. The government, thanks to this subpoena, now has the right to dig into your financial information, credit card history, internet browsing history and what you thought were harmless tweets. WikiLeaks said three of the four individuals targeted by the Department of Justice had never worked for WikiLeaks and were private citizens who supported its public disclosure work voluntarily as activists or politicians
Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson said his government planned to lodge a protest on Monday with the U.S. ambassador in Reykjavik. Birgitta Jonsdottir, the Icelandic MP being investigated, said on her twitter account “USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?” It makes you wonder how far the U.S. is going to go in order to quash a non terrorist organization. Since Twitter was kind enough to inform her of the investigation she said “department of justice are requesting twitter to provide the info – I got 10 days to stop it via legal process before twitter hands it over.”
This is a major violation of privacy and it shows in the subpoena. The government requested the information and a judge gave them permission to get it because they were conducting a criminal investigation. That’s all they had to say to get a judge to hand it over. Do we see a problem? Not only are your accounts not safe but not even those who are foreign government officials. Why would you investigate someone who has a form of diplomatic immunity? It seems as if they’re snatching up everything they can to persecute Julian Assange and him alone.
Those named in the subpoena have the option to object to the investigation and appeal it within 10 days of notification but what options does that leave for those who follow Wikileaks. Wikileaks is apparently wondering the same thing.
Would those of you who follow Wikileaks’ Twitter account join in on a class action lawsuit to protect your rights to privacy and free speech? The government is clearly out of control and they know it. Why else would they seal the subpoena and place a gag order on the proceedings even after their acknowledgment of investigations into Wikileaks and it’s supporters? I originally followed Wikileaks on Twitter so that I could avoid punching it into Google for fear of a visit from the FBI but I forgot that I live in a police state. I do greatly appreciate Twitter for informing those directly named in the subpoena and actually getting the document unsealed. That is an incredible step for any company let alone a social networking site.
Do you follow Wikileaks? Would you join a class action lawsuit? Did you already unfollow Wikileaks?