Nov 122011
 November 12, 2011  Posted by  Court, Online, Surveillance

Dominic Rushe reports:

Icelandic MP and former WikiLeaks volunteer Birgitta Jonsdottir has slammed the decision by US courts to open her Twitter account to the US authorities and is taking her case to the Council of Europe.

On Thursday a US judge ruled Twitter must release the details of her account and those of two other Twitter users linked to WikiLeaks. Jonsdottir learned in January that her Twitter account was under scrutiny from the Justice Department because of her involvement last year with WikiLeaks’ release of a video showing a US military helicopter shooting two Reuters reporters in Iraq. She believes the US authorities want to use her information to try and build a case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“This is a huge blow for everybody that uses social media,” said Jonsdottir. “We have to have the same civil rights online as we have offline. Imagine if the US authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers. There would be a hell of a fight. It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

She said she would press for the Council of Europe to act on the case, which she believes sets a worrying precedent for private citizens and politicians across the world.

Read more on The Guardian.

I must be missing something. I don’t see this case as precedent-setting and I don’t necessarily think the judge got it wrong. As I blogged last night, I think the judge applied the law and the problem is with the law itself and past decisions that do not afford information held by providers Fourth Amendment protections. If we want judges to reach more privacy protective decisions, we need to give them more privacy protective laws to apply. I think privacy activists and civil libertarians can and should use this case to pressure Congress to reform ECPA, which they already acknowledge needs updating.

If I’m way off base, lawyers, please drop me an e-mail or post a comment or something that explains why even if the court had found that there was a privacy interest in IP addresses, it would have made a damned bit of difference once Third Party Doctrine reared its ugly head.

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