Federal Magistrate Decision Renders Twitter Privacy Obsolete

Tyler Durden's picture

As we reported two months ago, the DOJ had secretly subpoenaed the personal information of several "twitters" who may have had a relationship to Wikileaks. Among the people to discover they were the subject of a secret subpoena was Iceland Member of Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir. Furthermore the only reason those being investigated even realized this was the case is because Twitter notified them, unlike other social networks which may have been also subpoenaed, yet have remained quiet so far. Twitter had said: "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." Alas, today AP reports that while this inititial request had been challenged by objects of the inquiry, "a federal magistrate ruled that prosecutors can demand the Twitter account information of certain users in their criminal probe into the disclosure of classified documents on WikiLeaks." Simply said this means that virtually anybody's electronic communication on Twitter, and most certainly elsewhere too, can be intercepted by the DOJ for whatever reason, without anyone having to be notified of this gross privacy breach. It makes one wonder just how many additional benefits is JPM getting from its 10% investment in Twitter?

From AP:

Three of the 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.

A federal law allows prosecutors to obtain certain electronic data without a search warrant. In this case, the Twitter users say the government is abusing the law in a way that harms constitutional protections for free speech and association.

Lawyers for the Twitter account holders - all of whom have some connection to WikiLeaks - have said they will appeal.

While emails sent from corporate locations have always had privacy disclaimers to them, even they would require a subpoena from the DOJ, at least in a normal world. however, in this bizarro world version, where those who dare to challenge the Dow 36,000 thesis will soon be charged with treason, we can all kiss our twitter (and all other) privacy goodbye.

Big teleprompted brother is always watching.

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NOTW777's picture

hope and change

just imagine what would be said if this was a Bush DOJ

alien-IQ's picture

they would have probably called it "the twitter" because it's on "the internets".

NOTW777's picture

so alien, r u happy with all this hope and change?  all this emphasis on throwing privacy under the bus for everyone, except terrorists

malikai's picture

You sound like Sarah Palin.

Raynja's picture


In B.B. we trust!

alien-IQ's picture

no I'm not at all happy with it...In fact, it sucks big time. but I'm not surprised either. It's the same shit we had with Bush and Clinton and Bush and Reagan and on and on and on and on.

The only people that are surprised are those stupid enough to think there is any difference between republicans or democrats.

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

When you realize that all the same kinds of information available to "law enforcement" / "national security" organizations about the common man can (in theory, for now) also be used by the common man to monitor his lawful governors, then the solution becomes obvious.

They are building a panopticon, but we need not fear it or fight it. We need only make them apply it to themselves as thoroughly as they say it needs to be applied to us.

Funny thing about hypocrisy: no one in the world -- no matter what creed or religion -- seems to think it is legitimate.

AldoHux_IV's picture

Always been watching-- looks like the veneer of American values and individual rights is slowly cracking to reveal the beast of totalitarinism.

Fink must be happy with that, no wonder he's bullish.

gangland's picture

privacy bitchez!

Mercury's picture

So Wikileakers only want other people's information to be free?

alien-IQ's picture

paper, pencil and a box of matches = the required tools for safe and private communication. all else is suspect.

Papasmurf's picture

When you vacuum up everything, all you get is mouse turds.  You can automate sorting, but in the end you still have mostly turds.

AN0NYM0US's picture

yet ZH requires users to register... just sayin

reading's picture

You dont have to register to read...

Azannoth's picture

All you have to provide is a 'fake' email account, I take this as 99% privacy, of course they could trace your IP address and so forth, so yes they could sooner or later arrive at your door step, just keep that in mind before you post something about 'holocaust denial'(ironicaly one of the few thing that are illegal and not protected under 'free speach') for example

In Germany you must show your passport when buying a SIM card, one of the reasons I don't use a cell phone here, and in my appartment have no TV, Radion nor Internet

NOTW777's picture

not "required" and very little info requested

you sound guilty

AN0NYM0US's picture

email is required if you wish to post so unless you use a one off email when the courts come a looking for NOTW777 their job is a whole lot easier, now of course if you have nothing to hide than it doesn't matter.... until it does


Eric Schmidt likely shares the persepctive of quite a few on this thread


CNBS in a December interview with Dr. Goog Schmidt

"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place, but if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it's important, for example that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."


bob_dabolina's picture

Big fuckin' deal.

If you're doing stuff you don't want revealed....don't talk about it on the net, especially twitter/facebook. In fact, depending on the level of secretness don't even talk about it on the phone.

Do people not read the news and watch T.V?

People are so stupid it pisses me off. Like Tiger Woods texting all those bitches...wtf, did he think that was a wayyyy good idea?

Just excersize some common sense for Christ sakes.

Misean's picture

Well, the issue isn't the transmission of info. That's public. Transmitting on the internet is the equivelent of talking on a street corner. The issue is the account itself. See my post below yours for that.

bob_dabolina's picture

All I'm saying if you're trading on some hot insider tips don't talk about it on facebook/twitter, I mean it's common sense. If you plan on disclosing national secrets don't facebook your besties about it.

If you're a celebrity and cheating on your wife excersize some discretion by not texting/emailing/even calling them from your phone. Hire someone to use their phone/email, anything but this stupid shit I read about everyday in the paper.

Misean's picture

Oh, I agree with that. But you should not expect privacy there. Thing is, people expect that account info to be private. Used to be that the government needed a warrant to look at your phone bill. (BTW, the private telephone circuit for land line calls is considered private. The internets not).

bob_dabolina's picture

Under the Patriot act nothing is private.

101 years and counting's picture

Amen.  dont want big brother to know what you think, dont put it out there for everyone to see!!!


alien-IQ's picture

is that the "I don't mind if they tap my phone, I'm not doing anything wrong" defense of this matter?

or do you simply not feel that privacy is a right?

bob_dabolina's picture

I feel that privacy is a right absolutely.

However, I am realistic enough to know that in these times everything is trackable, tapable, traceable, recordable, observable, savable, etc.

Do I like it?


But thats just the way it is. I mean just look @ google earth and thats something available to everyone. Imagine the shit they have they have we dont even know about. Of course with that type of power there will be parties trying to exploit it.

You have to adapt with the times.

Misean's picture

Yep...disclose your information to someone else and the government claims it has access to it because the information is no longer private and the person/entity you disclosed to has no expectation of YOUR privacy. It's nice when sophistry trumps logic and reason.

velobabe's picture

i am quite new to twitter, but i like following certain avatars or characters. what can they do if they don't have real names. does twitter require a real name besides what you call your self? i am sure zerohedge didn't give real names.

Misean's picture

I'm Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz.

johnQpublic's picture

best not speak above a wisper

better not see this

better not tell

LukeWorm's picture

We can't trust anything American anymore.

By the way, are there still idiots who register with their real name and info? Geesh.


Dr. Porkchop's picture

None of this should be surprising. The constitution was replaced with the USA Patriot Act years ago.

Marc45's picture

I can't imagine any credible wikileaker not knowing how to anonymously get around the internet.

Anyone who gets caught, probably doesn't really know anything.

Sokhmate's picture

This news confirms my simple needs to happiness: healthy food and good sex. All else is superficial

Azannoth's picture

Any1 giving theri REAL private information on the Internet is a dumb@ssssss ! learn to ABUsE the anonymity !

Bagbalm's picture

Hand delivered one time pad for encryption. Hand delivered hand written notes by a trusted courier. Figure anything else the government knows before you do.

g3h's picture

This is completely legit.


Look, China has done it.

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

Twitter is still cool. As is the LAPD when it comes to Charlie Sheen. Plans to lock him up failed last night.


"#fastball: all good here on homefront. all reports are false. I'll explain more very soon. #Dogspeed c"



"#fastball; the LAPD were AWESOME. Absolute pros! they can protect and serve this Warlock anytime!!! c"



"#fastball; 101 and on the black. 50 cops in my home. they all left. I'm still here. WINNING? 24/7 c"

Widowmaker's picture

This happens all the time, and not to mention law enforcement and investment banks pay handsomely for data mining. Hell even selective service registration puts your name on bank lists for credit cards, and a free razor.  Uncle Sam leads the charge selling out every American when it comes to privacy (among a long list of things).

Ever wonder what happens to all the auto-save information in gmail, that too hot to send but still saved?  Ever notice Google wants your phone number real bad all the sudden?

There is no privacy after the patriot bullshit - bullying and crotch scans for your protection and their profit (aggregating and selling your data is EXTREMELY profitable).  It's all about money and USDOG is a high paying customer and routine.

Your money is tracked even more closely, and hence the mark of the beast and demolition of a cash society.

Your privacy is being abused like a 10 year old Catholic alter boy for a buck and non othr than Uncle Sam's hands entrenched under your robes.

Queue the surprise.

PulauHantu29's picture

Sounds like every message sent via internet should simply cc: DOJ.


Scorpio69er's picture

"You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order!

You, you sonofabitch, you! You're supposed to stand for somethin'! You're supposed to protect people! But instead you rape and murder them!"