Federal Magistrate Upholds Subpoenas for Twitter User Information Re: Wikileaks

In a 21 page opinion, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan in the Eastern District of Virginia today upheld a federal grand jury subpoena issued in December for twitter user account information related to the Wikileaks probe.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a subpoena ordering Twitter Inc. to hand over private messages, billing information, telephone numbers and connection records of accounts run by Assange and others....The subpoena, dated Dec. 14, asked for information dating back to November 1, 2009.

Salon posted a copy of the subpoena in January here. [More...]

On December 14,2010, the court issued a sealed order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) seeking subscriber information and all records and other non-content information for Twitter accounts Wikileaks, rop_g, ioerror and birgittaj from November 1, 2009 to the present. On January 5, 2011, at Twitter's request, the Government moved to unseal the December 14th Order so that Twitter could disclose it to its users. On January 7, 2011, Twitter notified its users of the December 14th Order. The users moved to vacate the Order requiring Twitter to turn over the documents, and to unseal all the pleadings.

The Judge rejected the users' claims under the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment as well as their other arguments. She says there is no right of privacy in your IP address if you turn it over to a third party like Twitter. Wikileaks has said in the past it believes similar subpoenas went out to Google and Facebook.

There are many briefs filed in the case by several excellent attorneys, both on the issue of the ordering Twitter to turn over the records under 18 U.S.C. 2703(d) and on unsealing the documents and pleadings. If you'd like to read them, and have a PACER account, it's case number 1:11-dm-00003-TCB.

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