Twitter Must Give WikiLeaks-Associated Users' Info to Feds

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Federal investigators will be able to comb through the accounts of Twitter users' with ties to WikiLeaks. The exact order won't allow the Feds to see the content of messages, only some data attached to the accounts. In a bold legal challenge, Twitter fought to make the initially sealed information request public, a request which was granted.

The five accounts investigators are after belong to Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, Dutch citizen Rop Gonggrijp and Icelandic parliament member Birgitta Jonsdottir.

The Twitter users, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation, have vowed to appeal the ruling.

A federal magistrate ruled Friday that prosecutors can demand Twitter account information of certain users in their criminal probe into the disclosure of classified documents on WikiLeaks.

Three of the five account holders targeted by the government had asked the judge to reverse an earlier order she issued requiring Twitter to turn over the information to prosecutors. The Twitter users argued that the government was on a fishing expedition and its request amounted to an unconstitutional violation of their freedom of speech and association.

But in a ruling issued Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan said the government's request was reasonable and did nothing to hamper the Twitter users' free speech rights.

"The freedom of association does not shield members from cooperating with legitimate government investigations," Buchanan wrote in her 20-page opinion.

Read the full story at the AP.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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