Alexandria, Va. – A federal magistrate judge has ruled that
the government may access the records of a number of Twitter users as part of
its investigation into documents distributed on WikiLeaks. The government is
seeking Twitter account data for, among others, WikiLeaks founder Julian
Assange; Bradley Manning, who is suspected of leaking the classified documents
to WikiLeaks; and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s parliament.
ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) challenged the government’s
attempt to obtain the Twitter records, arguing violations of the First and
But the judge ruled in favor of the government’s request,
declaring it legal because it does not seek the "content" of Twitter
postings, only records relating to Twitter accounts.
The judge denied a request
to unseal the government’s application to obtain the Twitter records, but
unsealed the order itself.
According to the newly-unsealed order, the
government is seeking phone numbers and physical addresses connected to the
accounts; IP addresses used to access the accounts, and time and duration of
access points; and sizes of files transferred via the accounts on Twitter.
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," said EFF
legal director Cindy Cohn.
The EFF and ACLU plan to appeal the ruling.