ACLU / EFF In Court In Alexandria Today Over Government Demands For Twitter Records

Affiliate: ACLU of Virginia
February 15, 2011 11:26 am

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Demands For Information Were Made In Connection With WikiLeaks Investigation

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ALEXANDRIA, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia today for a hearing in a legal battle over the government’s demands for the records of several Twitter users in connection with an investigation related to WikiLeaks. The ACLU and EFF represent Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic parliamentarian and one of the Twitter users whose records were sought by the government.

“Like many elected officials, our client uses Twitter and other online tools to communicate with her constituents and express her political views. The government shouldn’t be trying to find out about her communications unless they can withstand serious First Amendment scrutiny, and the government hasn’t done that here,” said Aden Fine, staff attorney for the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, who presented arguments today. “The government’s request is especially troubling because it seeks information about all statements made by our client, not just speech about the subject of the government’s investigation.”

The ACLU and EFF have asked the court to unseal the still-secret court records of the government’s attempts to collect private records from Twitter, Inc., as well as other companies who may have received demands for information from the government. The groups have also asked the court to overturn the December 14 court order requiring Twitter to provide information about its users.

“We are deeply troubled that the government asked the court to keep secret the original court order asking Twitter for its users’ records,” said Fine. “Except in truly extraordinary circumstances, Internet users should receive notice and an opportunity to go to court to defend their constitutional rights before their privacy is compromised.That’s what is happening now, thanks to Twitter’s efforts.”

Attorneys for Jonsdottir are Fine and Benjamin Siracusa-Hillman of the ACLU, Rebecca Glenberg of the ACLU of Virginia and Cindy Cohn, Lee Tien, Marcia Hofmann and Kevin Bankston of EFF.The motions were joined by attorneys from the law firm Keker & Van Nest LLP and the Law Office of John D. Cline on behalf of Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp, respectively, as well as local counsel in Virginia. The government has also requested information concerning Appelbaum and Gonggrijp’s Twitter accounts.

More information about the case is online at:

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