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3/14/2011
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Twitter Must Turn Over Records In Wikileaks Case

ACLU and Electronic Freedom Foundation plan to appeal a judge's ruling, siding with the U.S. government, requiring the microblogging site to release information on three users who had contact with Wikileaks.

A judge on Friday ruled in favor of the United States government, telling Twitter it must hand over records about three users who had contact with Wikileaks. Days later, on Monday, a group sympathetic to the controversial Web site leaked documents about Bank of America's foreclosure practices.

The order in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in United States v. Appelbaum upheld a prior ruling in the U.S. government's continuing investigation of Wikileaks. Judge Theresa Buchanan rejected the users' argument that the disclosure invades their right to privacy, stating that they voluntarily made their user information public once Twitter showed their posts.

The government wants Twitter to provide all Twitter account information, such as mailing addresses and screen names. In addition, government officials want Twitter information for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as well as Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of providing Wikileaks with data.

Twitter successfully limited the time frame of the order to cover only the period of Nov. 15, 2009, to June 1, 2010, Bloomberg reported.

The three individuals -- @ioerror, or Jacob Appelbaum, an American computer security researcher and programmer; @birgittaj or Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic parliament; and @rop_g or Rop Gonggrijp, a Dutch activist and computer programmer -- were supported by attorneys, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which challenged the order on the grounds that it was overly broad and violated its clients' civil rights. The ACLU and EFF plan to appeal Judge Buchanan's ruling, the organizations said.

"We had also sought to make public court documents concerning the government's attempts to collect private records from Twitter and other companies. The court agreed to make public all of the documents related to the users' legal challenge to the order to Twitter, but rejected our request to make public documents the government had filed in order to obtain that order," the ACLU said on its Web site. "Our privacy in our Internet communications should not be so easily sacrificed."

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