It’s been almost a year since the US government issued a subpoena for the tweets and other Twitter-related information from WikiLeaks and several of its associates, and the battle is still being fought in court.
In January 2011, the Justice Department began going after the tweets of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and three alleged associates: Jacob Appelbaum, Birgitta Jonsdottir and Rop Gonggrijp.
The latter three have been fighting this subpoena since being informed of it by Twitter, going to court several times to protect their privacy.
They brought the Department of Justice to trial in March, but the judge squashed all of their claims to privacy.
And although an appeal in November 2011 saw the judge again side with the Department of Justice, they’re still not giving up.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the trio is now seeking both another appeal and an injunction to prevent the government from forcing Twitter to hand over information while the appeal is in court.
No search warrant has been issued in this case, which will likely be part of the defense’s argument during the appeal. Plus, lawyers for the trio claim that the injunction must be established to prevent them from “suffer[ing] irreparable harm from the production of their private information.”
Part of the argument on their behalf is that none of them have been accused of a crime, and thus the information they shared on Twitter should be protected by the Fourth Amendment. However, the government is arguing that this information was freely and publicly shared, not private – an argument that the appeals judges have agreed with.
This is a high profile case that will not only have implications for those directly involved and the WikiLeaks organization, but for anyone on Twitter. Knowing whether information shared on Twitter – especially the more private information like direct messages and IP addresses – is presumed to be legally private or public will impact the future of the network.
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