Twitter Responds to WikiLeaks Document Demand by Feds–But Who's Next?
Twitter has been ordered by a U.S. federal judge to turn over documents related to several people involved with WikiLeaks to the Justice Department.
Tonight, a Twitter spokeswoman responded to a request for comment on the situation:
“We’re not going to comment on specific requests, but, to help users protect their rights, it’s our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so. We outline this policy in our law enforcement guidelines.”
In an onstage interview I did with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo at a D@CES event last night in Las Vegas, he referenced the issue, but would not give any specifics.
While he said he could not talk about WikiLeaks specifically, he indicated that he disliked government mandates to keep things quiet and reiterated Twitter’s desire to connect people with useful information.
“We’re going to lash out at things that prevent us from doing that, as aggressively as we can,” said Costolo, who also used Twitter crackdowns in China as an example.
It might be a Herculean task to fight the federal government, which is aggressively going after WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
Some Web companies, such as eBay’s PayPal unit, have cut off WikiLeaks.
On the other hand, Twitter took legal action to unseal the court order, which allowed it to inform those involved, giving them 10 days to object. Otherwise, the San Francisco microblogging service would have had to turn over information without the knowledge of these users.
There will surely be more of these to other Web companies, with obvious candidates being Google and Facebook.
The order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is ordering Twitter to fork over subscriber names, user names, screen names, mailing addresses, residential addresses and more of several people involved with WikiLeaks.
But you can read for yourself–here is the court order, as well as the unsealing order: