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U.S. Judge upholds investigators' access to Twitter data

John Ribeiro | Nov. 11, 2011
A District Judge in the U.S. upheld Thursday an earlier order that Twitter must provide certain types of information of account holders to government investigators working on the WikiLeaks case, and declined to unseal records that could provide information on whether the prosecutors had tried to get similar information from other Internet companies.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The petitioners had accepted Twitter's privacy policy, which permits collection of certain information like IP address information. The petitioners countered that users were not explicitly notified that Twitter collects IP addresses, but they voluntarily chose to use Internet technology to communicate with Twitter, and thereby consented to whatever disclosures would be necessary to complete their communications, the Judge said. They also knew that their communications with Twitter would be transmitted out of private spaces and onto the Internet for routing to Twitter, he added.

Judge O'Grady also upheld Magistrate Judge Buchanan's refusal to order unsealing and public docketing of all orders in the investigation that may be addressed to service providers other than Twitter, as the docket sheet containing the information requested would disclose the progress of the government investigation in significant detail. The Judge previously noted Magistrate Judge Buchanan's concern that the documents contained sensitive non-public facts including the identities of targets and witnesses.

 

 

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