Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Government: Love the Twitter, Hate the Tweet

The UK Guardian finds irony in Hillary Clinton's recent praise for Twitter's role in Mid East revolution while her government pressures Twitter in court over WikiLeaks matters:

Lawyers for civil rights organisations appeared before a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, battling against a US government order to disclose the details of private Twitter accounts in the WikiLeaks row, including that of the Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir....

The court case...centres round the release of tens of thousands of Pentagon and state department classified documents by WikiLeaks. Outraged by the leaks, the US has set up a grand jury in secret, based in Alexandria, to investigate whether grounds can be found for a criminal case against WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange. As part of that investigation the grand jury ordered Twitter to disclose the details of the accounts of WikiLeaks and three people said to be linked to the organisation.

The investigation also covers Bradley Manning....The court hearing broke up without any ruling by the judge.

More on the story and the legal issues involved from Bloomberg News:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan in Alexandria, during an hour-long hearing today, considered a challenge to her order requiring Twitter to give investigators data on subscribers “associated with WikiLeaks,” including its leader, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning, a U.S. soldier charged with leaking classified information.

“The government says there’s no expectation of privacy when logging into Twitter,” John Keker, a San Francisco-based lawyer representing one of the WikiLeaks backers [said]...“It is incredibly powerful to know who the opposition is and who they’re working with,” Keker said, citing as an example Egypt and Tunisia, where citizens used social networks to push for regime changes.

Buchanan questioned Keker’s argument that turning over the information would violate Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless searches and seizures by the government....“What they’re seeking is location data and timing data,” Buchanan said.

The government's order was initially a secret, but Judge Buchanan unsealed it on Jan. 5, which allowed Twitter to tell the targeted folk they were being targeted.

Three subscribers whose records are being sought are Jacob Appelbaum, a computer security researcher, who represented WikiLeaks at a 2010 hacker’s conference in New York; Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic parliament, elected to a four-year term in 2009; and Rop Gonggrijp, described in court papers as a Dutch activist and businessman who helped found the first public Internet service provider in the Netherlands....

Twitter negotiated with the government to restrict the time frame of the order to activity from Nov. 15, 2009, to June 1, 2010, and limit the scope of the information being sought, according to court papers.

The three are asking Buchanan to force investigators to seek a warrant for the information. A search warrant would mean the government has shown probable cause, a higher hurdle than the “relevant” and “material” standard under the Stored Communications Act, on which Buchanan based her order....

John Davis, an assistant U.S. attorney in Alexandria, said in court today that the government’s request from Twitter was routine.

“This is a standard -- as this court knows well -- investigative measure used in criminal investigations every day of the year all over the country,” Davis said.

Alas, it is all too standard. Defenders of transparency and the "freedom to connect" Clinton specifically praised could make the case that there is no irony-- that she is merely implicitly for all openness all the time, including of whatever is being kept secret about the Twitter accounts the government wants to dip into.

First of all, of course she isn't. But second, the differences between private openness and openness for the governments that tax and rule allegedly in our name are worth keeping in mind when thinking about privacy and openness.

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  • Warty||

    Here's a not-at-all on-topic, and not very civil, takedown of Krugman.

    The conspiratorially minded among us might say that Krugman is a Republican mole, placed inside the upper reaches of American liberalism's foremost cathedral to destroy the movement from within, but if true, Republicans themselves wouldn't so frequently pursue Krugman-lite policies (the George W. Bush years, most notably) on the way to economic hardship. Instead, it should be said that Krugman is a thoroughgoing statist, one who actually believes all that he does with great conviction despite an historical record that would logically give any rational human being pause.

  • Gregory Smith||

    You must be joking, Krugman a Republican? Krugman hates capitalism, doesn't care about deficits, supports socialism, hates banks, if he's a Republican then so is Fidel Castro.

    Arizona State University Eliminates Speech Code.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....nates.html

  • Warty||

    Wow, you're stupid.

  • ||

    I've thought that Micheal Savage must be a secret leftist, because he's insane, otherwise. But I don't really believe it. He's just nuts.

    Ditto Krugman.

  • ||

    Make that Michael.

  • ||

    Good article, Warty. Thanks for the link. And ignore the blogwhore.

  • Paul||

    A better link would have been to Sage's Wednesday P.I. Fashion Tips.

  • ||

    They don't really have that anymore. But they did make a change to the commenting format. Not it's like here where you don't need to register and can spoof anyone. Keep on trollin' baby!

  • zoltan||

    hates capitalism, doesn't care about deficits, supports socialism

    Sounds like a Republican to me. Democrats definitely don't hate banks though, just look at the billions of dollars they've given them in the past couple years!

  • ||

    Headline: Twat Twits Tweets.

    Sorry for the vulgarity, but it was just too tempting.

  • ||

    More. Give me more vulgarity!

  • ||

    You twerp.

  • ||

    Twerp Twaddles Twanger.

  • ||

    assange is innocent. dont know about the others tho.

  • Paul||

    I haven't read all the linked articles, but what is the data from Twitter that investigators are hoping to get? I don't know much about the Twitters but aren't all Tweets public? Or can you set up secure (private) tweet channels? Is the government trying to get private tweets or data on the Twitter account holders not related to specific tweets?

  • Virginia||

    Prosecutors asked for subscriber names, contact information, billing records, user activity, Internet Protocol addresses and source and destination e-mail addresses.

  • Virginia||

    “This is a standard -- as this court knows well -- investigative measure used in criminal investigations every day of the year all over the country,” Davis said.

    But now your political targets have the money to fight back so fuck you, assistant U.S. authoritarian John Davis.

  • ||

    In 1802 Thomas Jefferson said: "We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant's books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them."

    A democracy thrives only when there is full tranparency and accountability on the part of those in government and active participation of all its citicizens.

    Let's hope that the power and the promise of the recent public revelations brought about by wikileaks empowers us to see through the baloney of the "us vs. them" menatality; to see how utterly pointless and counter productive it really is. So we can move quickly towards the day when human beings simply don't need "secret intelligence services" or war anymore and we can live celebrating the best in each of us: our compassion, our dignity, our capacity to both delight and be delighted in one another and our natural world, etc.

    war was, DIGNITY IS
    Barclay

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