Government Requests For Twitter Users' Personal Information Raise Serious Constitutional Concerns, Says ACLU

January 8, 2011

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – According to news reports today, the government has obtained a court order requiring Twitter to provide information about some of its subscribers who are associated with WikiLeaks. The court order was made public only after Twitter successfully moved to unseal it.

The following can be attributed to Aden Fine, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Speech, Privacy and Technology Project:

"These government requests for detailed information about individuals' Internet communications raise serious First Amendment concerns and will have a chilling effect on people's willingness to engage in lawful communications over the Internet. There are serious doubts as to whether the government's interest in obtaining all of this private and constitutionally protected information is sufficiently compelling to outweigh the constitutional interests at stake.

"Twitter should be commended for moving to unseal the court order, but we are very troubled that the order was filed under seal in the first place. Except in truly extraordinary circumstances, Internet users should receive notice, and an opportunity to go to court to defend their constitutional rights, before their rights are compromised."

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