Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Twitter Challenges Govt' Subpoena

linked from
In my gollomphing around the net I came across this article on concerning Twitter's response to the recent subpoena they were issued for information on a number of key figures in the Wikileaks saga. Instead of simply allowing their databases to be opened up and scoured of the key information, Twitter challenged the gag order which came attached to the demands, they won and subsequently notified the persons involved that their information was going to be released. This action by Twitter allowed the persons involved (including wikileaks founder Julian Assange, accused leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning,  former WikiLeaks spokeswoman Birgitta Jonsdottir, and WikiLeaks activist Jacob Appelbaum) to challenge and attempt to quash the subpoena in court.'s Ryan Sigel states:

That's what makes Twitter's move so important. It briefly carried the torch for its users during that crucial period when, because of the gag order, its users couldn't carry it themselves. The company's action in asking for the gag order to be overturned sets a new precedent that we can only hope that other companies begin to follow....

...Even more remarkable, Twitter's move comes as a litany of companies, including PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, and Bank of America, follow the political winds away from the First Amendment, banning donations to WikiLeaks. And voluntarily threw the site off its hosting platform, even though there's nothing illegal in publishing classified documents.

By standing up for its users, Twitter showed guts and principles. Much of it is likely attributable to Twitter's general counsel Alexander Macgillivray. As security and privacy blogger Christopher Soghoian notes, Macgillivray was one of the first law students at Harvards' Berkman internet law centre and at in his previous job at Google "played a major role in getting the company to contribute takedown requests to"
I can't help but feel the bile rise in my gut, this whole WikiLeaks saga has raised the Orwellian fear in me and it's shown in stark releif just how powerless the little man can be if the government wishes him gone. It is laudable that Twitter has supported its users in such a way, and it makes me feel a little bit safer knowing at least the big T has our back.

A copy of the subpoena has also been released (as is customary with WL related info) and can be found here:

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