back to article Feds subpoena Twitter for info on WikiLeaks backer

US authorities have subpoenaed Twitter for information about an Icelandic parliamentarian who until recently was a vocal supporter of WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange. Iceland Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir disclosed the legal demand in a series of tweets on the micro blogging site on Friday. The …

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Stop

"Do they realize I'm a Member of Parliament in Iceland?"

Do you think they care?

"America. Fuck Yeah!"

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WTF?

and that would mean what?

I believe twitter's ownership is US ownership, which means they really don't need to care, provided they have a supeana. By the same token, our US commentards should be equally aware that el Reg will likely submit to offical and properly entered requests for information on their activities here from the British government, even if it does not meet the requirements of US law. As the two end-parties are both british (even though the individual in question may not be), in my hypothetical, I would not expect a consoltation of a US court.

She might be able to pull diplomatic immunity, but considering she is not actually acting in a diplomatic capacity, I dont know if that works.

So I ask, why should they care?

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"offical and properly entered requests for information"

The first point is that it seems a little more than hypocritical for the US to be objecting to people "unofficially" distributing *their* politicians information, but then deciding that they can *demand* information from others.

The second point, following on from that is that this seems to be more of a fishing expedition ("Let's see who she's been talking to and what she's said, maybe we can find something incriminating") than a request for actual *evidence* of wrongdoing.

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But had it been the other way around

But had it been the other way around, I'm sure the news would be full of the US kicking up a stink.

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Boffin

So...

Wikileaks dumps 1000s of confidential (classified) documents on the world claiming a need for better transparency.

Yet when the US government is in the midst of a criminal investigation, those same people who championed Wikileaks' action are now condemning the US government's legal request for information?

And note that since one is a member of Parliament of Iceland, she believes that she should not be held to the same level of scrutiny and transparency that she demands of the US?

Total fail on the part of Wikileaks and their supporters.

Posted non-anon because I believe in what I say.

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Big Brother

@Oninoshiko

Twitter is a US corporation. They must comply with a law enforcement subpoena. Depending on the subpoena, Twitter may or may not disclose that they are subpoenaed. The purpose of the disclosure is to give the individual notification and the ability to challenge the subpoena in court prior to any material being released by Twitter.

I don't think you understand what is meant by diplomatic immunity.

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@"Ian Michael Gumby"

"Posted non-anon"

You have admitted previously that "Ian Michael Gumby" is not your real name.

Stop claiming to be non-anonymous when you are nothing of the sort. Your pseudonym is just as anonymous as any other pseudonym, including "anonymous coward".

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Boffin

Just to clarify...

Since many here don't really grok the law... (Manning didn't until it was too late..)

Remarks made in public by Jonsdottir are not protected by her political title. They are public.

So it is well within the US Government's purview to subpoena information from Twitter. Twitter is a US company and thus bound by the laws of the US. (Read the ToS...)

Diplomatic Immunity would protect Jonsdottir from criminal charges within the US, however, it would be reasonable for the US to ban her entrance to the US at any future date if they so choose.

Jonsdottir could actually be in trouble in Sweden based on the following quoted remarks:

“He certainly had fun at the party,” Jónsdóttir was quoted as saying. “I said it would be a bit of a prank to take him and see if they knew who he was. I don't think they had any idea.”

-=-

Clearly the US Government is building its case against Assange. There is no need for fabrication of evidence and any claim is merely a smoke screen to deflect damage from Assange.

Jonsdottir admittedly knew and aided Assange in his quest to attempt to hurt the US. This goes back to his youthful hacking days where he was convicted of hacking the US's computers. The point is that Jonsdottir was by her own admissions complicit w Assange. That is to say that her 'folly' of taking Assange to a US Ambassador's function has real repercussions.

It doesn't have to be the US Government, but depending on the outcome of the investigation, the Swedish Government can take action against her. Diplomatic immunity would protect her from charges in the US, but not Sweden.

It doesn't take a genius to see what the US is doing and while we don't have the exact details of what they find, eventually that too will come to light. Yes, Virginia, there is a Wolf and his name is Assange. The US is very transparent...

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Comprehension Fail

1) You do realize she's a Finn right? How the hell is she going to get into trouble in Sweden?

2) "hurting" the US, the last I checked was not a crime. Especially when "hurting" only entails posting what US representative actually did or said. This is called reporting and/or journalism, you should look it up.

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@AC

While Ian Michael Gumby is clearly not my name, it is also true that its not anon. That is there is only one Gumby who posts here. When you post as anon, you can be anyone...

That's the point. I'm not afraid to associate my posts with my alias.

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@Klaus

So sorry,

I misspoke when I said Sweden since Iceland is a Scandinavian country and should be recognized as such.

But Iceland isn't Finland, so I don't know why a Finn would be in Iceland's government?

So, am I bad for saying Sweden, or are you worse for saying Finn instead of Iceland when you tried to correct me.

Lets face it... all of Scandinavia would fit in a small portion of the US. (Wisconsin maybe?)

As to your point. The last time I checked. Espionage against the US would be considered hurting the US and that is a crime... So yes hurting the US could be a criminal act.

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FAIL

Double fail

You do realize she's Icelandic, right?

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WTF?

@Graham Marsden: Really?

Wow!

Such strong deductive reasoning.

To say that the US government is hypocritical when someone illegally stole and published classified documents while legally following a course of an investigation is quite a stretch of your imagination.

I wonder if you truly know the meaning of the word hypocrisy?

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@Ian Michael Gumby

Did Birgitta Jónsdóttir "illegally steal" (do you know the meaning of the word "tautology"?) the information? No.

Is making the information available "illegal" simply because the USA doesn't like it? No.

Is the USA going on a fishing expedition to try to find something incriminating against her a breach of their own laws? Quite possibly and certainly hypocritical.

Is Twitter right to refuse to just hand over this information? I would certainly say so and so do lawyers in America.

PS as I said in a previous post 'I also feel that you should look up the term "Straw Man"...' but clearly you haven't as you clearly still have no idea of the meaning of the expression.

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Boffin

@Graham Marsden

Clearly you don't know much about the law.

I'll make it really simple for you...

Manning allegedly stole classified documents and placed them on Wikileaks.

For the sake of this argument, you can assume his guilt.

Did Manning act alone?

What conversations occur between Wikileaks(their lawyers) and the US Government prior to the release of the flood of documents.

Is there evidence of Assange being complicit in Manning's crime?

Is there enough evidence to show that Assange did commit a crime?

The short answer is that the US Government doesn't know and is in fact investigating and gathering evidence. You do realize that this is something that they do, right? Its the law.

So as they work through the evidence and look at leads and gather more evidence. While you don't know what evidence they have,you can't say that they are 'on a fishing' expedition. As I stated in an earlier post, the I MP made public comments concerning her involvement with Assange therefore opening the door to herself being investigated.

With respect to the Twitter account.

There was enough evidence of the twitter account to have some involvement with Assange's case for a US Judge to sign off on a subpoena. Again as I pointed out in an earlier post, until the US Government gets the information from Twitter, they don't know who owns the account, and who has been using the account. And yes, when one gets a subpoena, they ask for everything and anything that they can think of.

What you fail to miss is the fact that it was the I MP that outed herself in public. Twitter doesn't fight the subpoena, the person who wishes to conceal his/her identity does. So all of this occurs in private. So why did she out herself in public?

Specifically in the law, Twitter is obligated to hand over the information when requested. However they have the right to challenge the Sub and to allow the individual to fight the sub as well. This is actually quite common and its not just the government getting a subpoena. Many companies sue John Doe and then get a subpoena to get the identity of the individual. I was tangentially involved in such a case. (And yes, I've had a government agency subpoena my identity too.) In this case, the individual fought the sub and won. (He shared his identity with the judge in private and showed that he was not the individual that they thought he was.)

So yes, while you whine about the unfair actions of the US Government, please understand what you are talking about. There is an ongoing investigation and when the time comes, the Government will make their case and connect the dots. Jumping to conclusions that the US Government is evil and is the cause of all that is wrong in this world is just absurd.

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@Ian Michael Gumby

Congradulations, Ian. You managed to agree with me.

Reread what I was saying, go on, my post can wait.

The US government obtained information from a US company in accordance with US law. Noone sould be suprised. The was the core point I was making. I would expect any other nation, given the same situation, to do the same thing.

Immunity was the only even vaguely relevent excuse for some form of improprity, and I came to the (albit maybe not well worded) conclusion that it would be kind to call that a "long shot."

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Anonymous Coward

Twitter?

Twitter? What could they possible want from Twitter?

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Big Brother

Hillary Clinton...

...wants to know everything. Even your Tweets.

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WTF?

The more evidence they can gather ....

.... to 'fit' the crime, the easier it will be for them to claim that some illegality has occurred.

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Confirmation that her Twitter alias

is actually owned by her? These minor details are extremely important in a US court of law.

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Unhappy

Deary me

She admits helping Assange in the past so she is obviously guilty of something, right kids?

Nothing to fear, nothing to hide. Hurrah for the US!

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And the story is?

Grand Jury is investigating a supposed crime to see if charges should be filed. They go through the legal procedure of issuing a subpoena to a company for records of a user. Where's the problem? Any other case requesting records on any other user and this wouldn't be here. Until and IF charges are filed all we have is rumor and innuendo.

Oh, and just to make it clear Twitter would respond to any request from any country as long as that request is made however that countries laws require. They are a business first and foremost.

And this is not about Free Speech, no one is trying to censor her. The subpoena is to enter who she is and what she said in a public forum into the record of the court. In the US if you say or do something in public you have no expectation of privacy or anonymity.

So, please, WHAT IS THE STORY.

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Re: And the story is? (why doesnt it do this automatically?)

"Oh, and just to make it clear Twitter would respond to any request from any country as long as that request is made however that countries laws require"

I think you mean:

Oh, and just to make it clear Twitter would respond to any request from any country as long as **it has an office in that country the resquest is made in, in order to keep doing business there as it has no choice**.

I very much doubt that it would even bother to respond to a request from e.g. Australia as it has no presence there and would enjoy sticking too fingers up at the Aussies (much like we did over the Ashes ;) )

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What "supposed crime"?

"Grand Jury is investigating a supposed crime to see if charges should be filed."

Last time I looked, the US knew damned well who "leaked" the information and passed it onto WikiLeaks, and it sure as hell wasn't Mr. Assange. They already *have* their leak.

WikiLeaks is notionally based (if such a term can be applied to such a "distributed entity") in Sweden, so if any laws apply to the site, it is those of that country.

The Swedes appear to be trying to accuse Mr. Assange of an entirely separate crime of rape. (Albeit a particularly bizarre form of rape where both adults concerned gave their consent. Good luck with that one.) It's hard to see how the US will be able to justify extradition based on this, even if Assange *were* to be found guilty of it.

WikiLeaks itself has not broken *any* Swedish laws. US laws do not apply to Swedes, thanks in large part to a concept with which rather too many Americans appear to be unfamiliar: "sovereignty".

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@Chronigan

"In the US if you say or do something in public you have no expectation of privacy or anonymity"

Firstly, last time I looked, Iceland was not in the USA.

Secondly, it isn't really her tweets they want. The court has stated that they want "user names, addresses, connection records, telephone numbers and payment details". I doubt very much that she has made any of this information public nor was it ever intended to be.

This is simply done in the desperate hope of finding some wrongdoing and someone to pin it on. I believe that lawyers call this "a fishing expedition". Others may call it a witch hunt.

THAT IS THE STORY.

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Anonymous Coward

'Grand Jury is investigating a supposed crime to see if charges should be filed.'

What crime where? By a non-US citizen not in US jurisdiction, ie: someone to whom US law should be of only academic interest. If Iran starts the 'extraordinary rendition' of US tourists in Europe on the grounds that they *may* have done something which would have been illegal *if* they had been in Iran, do you think the US will say, "Ah well, that seems fair enough"?

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Welcome

Re: & the story is?

What happens next? What is the Icelandic extradition treaty with the US like? Is it as biased in favour of the US as the UK's?

In which case she will shortly find herself on trial in the US for doing something in Iceland that is not a crime in Iceland, and will serve a long prison sentence in the US for it.

Why does the word "arrogance" keep crossing my mind?

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Boffin

@Sean Baggaley

So what is the involvement by Assange and Wikileaks?

That was a rhetorical question. Only Assange and Wikileaks insiders can answer that. Was Wikileaks merely a conduit or did Assange play part in Manning's act?

So the US Government is investigating what happened.

The fact that this member of Swedish Parliament helped Assange to 'sneak' in to a US Ambassador's function, puts herself in to an interesting situation.

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"this member of Swedish Parliament"

Jónsdóttir has a finger in that pie too?

> 'sneak' in to a US Ambassador's function

A cocktail party at the ambassador's residence. A top-secret venue if there ever was one, and if security was so lax that uninvited people were able to enter, then either the US should be putting better gorillas at the door, or it was not very secret to begin with.

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Actually, all of that information is necessary to

prove the account is owned by, controlled, and used by her and her alone.

If it's only an address it's open to the "someone forged my address" counter.

Without the connection records, it's open to the "someone else used my computer" counter. Same goes for the telephone numbers. The only way to legal prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her tweets are from her is to have ALL that information.

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@AC

Surely you jest when you say that you actually looked to see if Iceland was not the USA. I'd consider your remark to be sarcasm, however the intelligence shown on the part of Assange's followers leaves one to doubt.

To answer your question...

Twitter is a US based corporation. Twitter posts are in the public domain. Therefore it is the right of the US Government to subpoena Twitter to gain the identity of the person or persons unknown who made such posts. Of course that is to say that the posts and the account in questions must be relative to an ongoing criminal investigation for there to be a law enforcement subpoena. And the subpoena requires a judge to sign off on the Law Enforcement's request. (LE or LEO).

The fact that the owner of the account happens to be in Sweden and has admittedly outed herself is a moot point. The US Government has the right to this information and the burden of blocking the request now falls upon the lady in Sweden. Regardless of the fact she is in Sweden anyone can create an account and pretend to be someone else and tweet in their name. (Fake Steve Jobs for example...) The US Government is required by law to do their due diligence investigating a crime before the can bring charges.

The information being requested is in fact very routine. I wonder why the lady protests too much? Were it Nancy Pelosi the US Government would request the same information. (Nancy Pelosi is a very liberal Democrat from California and was former speaker of the House, for those who are not familiar with US politics.)

So you're wrong as to what the story is...

The real story is that you have some woman who has in the past admitted that she was an anarchist and is currently in the Swedish government who has intimate knowledge of Assange and his quest to hurt the US Government. She also has admittedly assisted Assange by getting him in to an US Ambassador's function on a 'lark'.

The real story is that while Wikileaks and their followers justify dumping 1000s of 'classified' US documents that were not properly vetted or for the most part had any value as evidence in a 'whistle blowing' incident, he and his supporters cry foul when the US Government goes through legal channels to obtain evidence of their actions. It is a further example of the irony we know as Assange.

The real story is that as journalists and the US Government dig in to Assange, they expose him to be less about whistle blowing but more about being an anarchist sociopath.

I expect this to be down voted, because you and others can't handle the truth.

With respect to your comments about a 'witch hunt' or 'fishing expedition', this is not the case.

There was a breach and a crime has been committed. The US is investigating all of those parties involved. Please understand that the US Government isn't creating the evidence, they are tying all of the loose ends together so that they can tell a story in court. (Do I need to really explain how the US Justice system works or have you watched enough TV to get the general idea?)

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Grenade

The Land Of the...Free National Security Letter

..because that's all the FBI and two dozens of other agencies need to get...anything stored electronically.

The Icys better set up IceTwatter or something.

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Troll

“If Twitter hands over my information...

... – then no ones information is save [sic] with Twitter.”

errrr... since when is your information safe while housed with a commercial entity? It is actually part of their EULA, they will hand your data to any government as long as that government meet the condition for requesting that information (one being, Twitter have a local office/server).

considering that it is a US company, then the US government have access to every twitter sent by anyone, as long as that twitter have passed through a US based server.

the fact that you are some sort of a government official doesn't give you any extra protection.

P.S. the above apply to your email and shopping sites, oh and iTune as well. The more information you give to a commercial entity, the more a government will have access to once you are in their sight.

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Sir

"then no ones information is save [sic] with Twitter.”

and so the muggles learn about the lack of privacy when posting on a public forum.

I'm looking forward to the day (probably in 20 years time at this rate) when I can have an intelligent conversation with a muggle about DNS and expect a non-'look at the weirdo uttering jibberish' response in return.

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Stop

all this may be true

but it doesn't mean it's right.

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Although I'm a big fan of DNS...

...the idea of looking forward to being able to have an intelligent conversation about it with the average man-in-the-street has never occured to me. The people to whom I speak who know about DNS already know it's a pretty neat solution to the problem it solves (despite the known weaknesses in the system) - we therefore don't need to have a conversation about it. I really don't expect anybody else to really be that interested - in much the same way as I wouldn't expect non-accountants to get excited by the differences between LIFO, FIFO and weighted average when it comes to analysing stock value in cost-accounting, non-Barristers to get excited about the latest missive from the Bar Council or non-cyclists to get excited about news of a new polymer for making bike tyres that promises 10% less rolling resistance.

Also, calling people "muggles" just because their speciality differs from yours is the height of arrogance.

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M.A
Unhappy

whst crimes

Wikileaks has not committed any crime it published leaked documents as any mrdia organisation would. If wikileaks or Assange is charged so should the British \Gaurdian New york times The BBC and just about most other media outlets.

No one rom wikileaks stole the cocuments this is just USA tryin to control people in the rest of the world I would tell them stick it where the sun dont shine.

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Headmaster

@M.A besides your spelling and Grammar?

It is a crime to steal and then publish classified documents. This is true in every country in the world.

Did Manning steal the documents? He's currently behind bars in solitary confinement in the brig.

(Military justice is pretty harsh.) Is he guilty? Until he has his day in court, he is considered innocent, however for the sake of this argument, he's guilty.

Did Manning act alone?

Until Manning's trial, we won't hear either side of it. For now, only Manning and his conspirators know for sure.

So the burden is on the US Government to investigate what happened and who was involved.

What we, the 'public', know is that a crime was committed and that the US is investigating. We also know that Wikileaks and specifically Assange is involved. We also know that Assange was previously convicted of hacking the US Government's computers, and we know what Assange and others have left in the public eye.

Clearly you haven't been paying attention. Assange isn't the hero you pretend he is.

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"For now, only Manning and his conspirators know for sure."

So, you've already decided that he didn't act alone? I thought that was for the courts.

"What we, the 'public', know is that a crime was committed"

We know nothing of the sort. That, again, is for the courts to decide. Stop trying to speak on behalf of people you don't represent.

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Boffin

@AC

So the theft of classified documents isn't a crime?

Silly me, I guess that if no crime was committed, then wikileaks didn't release classified documents, right?

The point is that it is a *FACT* that wikileaks released these documents.

It is a *FACT* that the documents released by wikileaks were in fact *STOLEN* *CLASSIFIED* *DOCUMENTS*. (Look at any newspaper and you can see evidence of the crime...)

Therefore a crime has been committed.

Let me guess... There's a dead body on the floor with a knife sticking out of his back and you'll say that no crime was committed?

Give me a break.

Please stop and think before you post. Its no wonder you post as an AC.

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Boffin

ur doin it rong.

>>So the theft of classified documents isn't a crime?

Sure it is, hence Mannings arrest.

>>Silly me, I guess that if no crime was committed, then wikileaks didn't release classified documents, right?

Actually the release of such information by a third party isn't necessarily a crime. I suggest you read up on the Pentagon Papers case, the 1st amendment and the various protections in law (in US law I might add) for whistleblowers.

Wikileaks hasn't done anything illegal under US law.

And for citations:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagon_Papers

And Daniel Ellsberg's (y'know, the guy that released the Pentagon Papers) response to the current Wikileaks situation:

http://www.ellsberg.net/archive/public-accuracy-press-release

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Nice to be told

It's nice of Twitter to tell her that it's happening. Next time, no doubt the judge authorising the paperwork will be asked to go the extra mile and prohibit them from informing the victim.

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Unhappy

Actually...

The initial subpoena DID prevent Twitter telling anybody.

They challenged it in court and the gagging order was dropped. The rumours are that others such as Google and Facebook have also been served with subpoenas and gagging orders, but have not yet challenged the gagging orders.

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Unhappy

Remember When....

Bush this, Bush that.... and now that the Feds have become 'enlightened' by the current administration... they seem to be more vicious that old 'Deer-in-The-Headlights(1)' Bush ever thought of being in their best/worst nightmares

.

Odd that.

Very heavy sigh for what the Feds do now days. I also pondered posting anonymous for a few minutes. If there is one thing I have seen thus far is that you badmouth them or God_Help_You post video about them, they Will_Come_After_You. And that's fscked up. Not what I was taught about my country

(1) The man always had that look when doing a televised speech. Did not evoke confidence from my POV.

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Anonymous Coward

Was There a point that was missed?

I thought that Wikileaks was all about everything being out in the open, did I get this wrong?

If not then what could be more open than information being published from everyone to everyone, at least for those who are so keen for everything to be exposed.

Or are some 'openards' more open than others?

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FAIL

It was the US which promised "transparency in government" not Wikileaks

You seem to misunderstand what Wikileaks is and what it does, as do far too many others.

Wikileaks is simply a publishing site for those who wish to leak information.

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Megaphone

Twitter is public you muppet

Twitter is a US site so anyone using it thinking that their information is private is an idiot. Any information held by a US company is available to the US Government whenever they feel like looking at it.

But then MPs aren't exactly the brightest people on the planet when it comes to technology.

Any info you pump into Twitter is public domain. If you are trying to exchange private information via Twitter you are a moron.

She is surprised that the US Government doesn't respect her status as an MP of the Icelandic Parliament. Of course they don't! Doesn't she realise US law applies to the whole planet! The US Government probably doesn't even know Iceland exists.

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re: Twitter is public you muppet

Except for the DM part. which is supposedly private (requires username and passwords) unless someone subpoenas it.

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Boffin

Huh?

"She is surprised that the US Government doesn't respect her status as an MP of the Icelandic Parliament. Of course they don't! Doesn't she realise US law applies to the whole planet! The US Government probably doesn't even know Iceland exists."

I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or intentionally dull.

The first part of your post is factually correct.

However this part is pure hogwash.

Anyone can create a Twitter account, even pretending to be someone else. So unless the US Government subpoenas the account holder's information, how do they know who 'owns' the account, and where they are located?

So this has nothing to do with the US not respecting other countries sovereignty but following US laws within the US as they conduct an investigation in to a crime against the US.

I am surprised that she outed herself.

I don't think that she realizes just what sort of position she has placed herself within Sweden, or maybe she does and just doesn't care?

Note: I'm not Swedish or know Swedish laws. Even if her involvement with Assange doesn't violate any laws, ethics are another matter. Embarassment of Sweden? Definitely.

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