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.
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