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Tuesday
Feb152011

Department of Justice Seeks Twitter Records in Wikileaks Probe

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an interesting juxtaposition to Secretary Hillary Clinton's Internet freedom speech, Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the Justice Department will be seeking to enforce a court order to direct Twitter Inc. to provide the U.S. government records from three individuals,  including Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Icelandic parliament who communicated with others about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange last year when WikiLeaks released their trove of U.S. cables.

In December, the U.S. District Court issued the order to seek the information under a 2703 order which allows the government to seek a service provider's customer communications records in the past 180 days. It is essentially an administrative subpoena.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation are seeking to dismiss and challenge the order.  According to a Jan. 26 court filing, the groups are seeking to dismiss on the grounds that it "intrudes upon important First Amendment rights," 4th Amendment protections, and "will not directly further the government's purported interests."

Jonsdottir and two other individuals have been targeted by these orders to turn over details about their Twitter accounts because the suit suggests they discussed Wikileaks and Assange.  The motion to dismiss notes, "The First Amendment guarantees their right to speak up for and freely associate with even unpopular people."

The motion also notes that the U.S. government request creates, "a disturbing precedent regarding a foreign government's ability to collect private data from another country's officials."

The U.S. government is seeking information about their accounts, direct messages, home address, connection records and IP addresses.

The ACLU and EFF are also seeking to unseal all court orders relating to the case and the government's request for the records.  Everything filed by the Justice Department was filed under seal in the case and remains secret.  The court motion and request to dismiss the court order were only recently unsealed in this matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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