Feds ditch First Amendment in WikiLeaks Twitter probe

A federal judge has ruled the US government can subpoena records from Twitter to assist in an ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks.

Indeed, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan believes the data isn’t protected by the First Amendment because Twitter “clients” have “already made their Twitter posts and associations publicly available.”

Buchanan also opined that the IP addresses of Twitter users lack “Fourth Amendment privacy interest” as the government isn’t attempting to obtain the actual “content” of their communication.

So what are the Feds interested in getting their hands on?

Well, the Justice Department has asked Twitter to turn over data related to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and other persons of interest, including screen names, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, credit card/bank account information and Internet protocol addresses.

Unsurprisingly, Aden Fine, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, says the organization plans to appeal Buchanan’s rather controversial decision.

“The government should not be able to obtain information about individuals’ Internet communications unless they withstand First Amendment scrutiny, and they didn’t do that here.”

“They [have] asked for information about every single use of Twitter by our client, whether it is related to the government investigation or not, and we don’t think the First Amendment permits that,” he added.

[Via Washington Post]