EFF in the News
The court order does not seek the content of the users' tweets, but instead seeks the IP addresses associated with the accounts. Lawyers for the Twitter users, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say the government can use those IP addresses as a sort of virtual tracking device to pin down the specific computer used by an account holder and with it the user's physical location.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said it asked for records on the make-up of the Intelligence Oversight Board in February, after a reporter's query for the information was rejected. The online civil liberties group sued in September after getting no response to its request.
With this decision, the court is telling all users of online tools hosted in the U.S. that the U.S. government will have secret access to their data,” Jonsdottir said in an e-mailed statement distributed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that describes itself as protecting civil liberties and defending free speech online.
Righthaven had accused the site and its owner, Leland Wolf, of direct and vicarious copyright infringement, but as argued by the EFF in its amicus brief on the case, Righthaven did not actually have exclusive rights to the image and therefore lacked standing to sue.
However, EFF offers a glimmer of hope in the precedent that Twitter sets in basically going behind the Feds' backs and notifying users of the warrant-less demands. The digital rights group "is urging other companies to follow Twitter's lead, stand with their customers, and promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government."
Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing one of the Twitter account holders, told CNET his group is “considering our options for how best to protect our clients’ rights in response to this dangerous decision.”
It remains unclear whether the WikiLeaks associates will appeal the ruling. “We need to review the decision and consult with our clients before determining next steps,” said Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing Ms. Jonsdottir.
"I think facial recognition is probably here to stay," said Jennifer Lynch with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Last week, Electronic Frontier Foundation was among the first organizations to report that Blue Coat Systems censorship and surveillance software had been discovered in government-controlled Syrian Telecommunications Establishment.