A court ruling to allow the U.S. government to obtain private data of three Twitter users, as part of its WikiLeaks investigations, was appealed by rights organizations the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on March 25.
In addition to allowing access to the private data of three users, the ruling would also prevent users from knowing which other online companies were ordered to hand their information over. The case was revealed when Twitter notified the individuals of the case.
Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, stated:
Except in very rare circumstances, the government should not be permitted to obtain information about individuals’ private Internet communications in secret. This is not one of those circumstances. If the ruling is allowed to stand, our client might never know how many other companies have been ordered to turn over information about her, and she may never be able to challenge the invasive requests.
Such cases are becoming more common. Earlier this month, a California court ordered YouTube, Twitter, and other websites to give Sony user data of anyone who watched or posted a hack to modify the PS3 operating system.
A similar court order gave Sony the right to obtain the IP addresses of anyone who visited the website of PS3 hacker George Hotz from January 2009 to the present. Sony is suing Hotz on the grounds that his hack could allow users to pirate games on the PS3.
Regarding the WikiLeaks case, EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn stated:
Services like Twitter have information that can be used to track us and link our communications across multiple services including Facebook and Gmail. The Magistrate’s ruling that users have no ability to protect that information from the U.S. government is especially troubling.
Photo Credit: WikiLeaks