back to article Feds subpoena Twitter for info on WikiLeaks backer

US authorities have subpoenaed Twitter for information about an Icelandic parliamentarian who until recently was a vocal supporter of WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange. Iceland Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir disclosed the legal demand in a series of tweets on the micro blogging site on Friday. The …


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  1. Graham Marsden

    "Do they realize I'm a Member of Parliament in Iceland?"

    Do you think they care?

    "America. Fuck Yeah!"

    1. Oninoshiko

      and that would mean what?

      I believe twitter's ownership is US ownership, which means they really don't need to care, provided they have a supeana. By the same token, our US commentards should be equally aware that el Reg will likely submit to offical and properly entered requests for information on their activities here from the British government, even if it does not meet the requirements of US law. As the two end-parties are both british (even though the individual in question may not be), in my hypothetical, I would not expect a consoltation of a US court.

      She might be able to pull diplomatic immunity, but considering she is not actually acting in a diplomatic capacity, I dont know if that works.

      So I ask, why should they care?

      1. Graham Marsden
        Thumb Down

        "offical and properly entered requests for information"

        The first point is that it seems a little more than hypocritical for the US to be objecting to people "unofficially" distributing *their* politicians information, but then deciding that they can *demand* information from others.

        The second point, following on from that is that this seems to be more of a fishing expedition ("Let's see who she's been talking to and what she's said, maybe we can find something incriminating") than a request for actual *evidence* of wrongdoing.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          @Graham Marsden: Really?


          Such strong deductive reasoning.

          To say that the US government is hypocritical when someone illegally stole and published classified documents while legally following a course of an investigation is quite a stretch of your imagination.

          I wonder if you truly know the meaning of the word hypocrisy?

          1. Graham Marsden

            @Ian Michael Gumby

            Did Birgitta Jónsdóttir "illegally steal" (do you know the meaning of the word "tautology"?) the information? No.

            Is making the information available "illegal" simply because the USA doesn't like it? No.

            Is the USA going on a fishing expedition to try to find something incriminating against her a breach of their own laws? Quite possibly and certainly hypocritical.

            Is Twitter right to refuse to just hand over this information? I would certainly say so and so do lawyers in America.

            PS as I said in a previous post 'I also feel that you should look up the term "Straw Man"...' but clearly you haven't as you clearly still have no idea of the meaning of the expression.

            1. Ian Michael Gumby

              @Graham Marsden

              Clearly you don't know much about the law.

              I'll make it really simple for you...

              Manning allegedly stole classified documents and placed them on Wikileaks.

              For the sake of this argument, you can assume his guilt.

              Did Manning act alone?

              What conversations occur between Wikileaks(their lawyers) and the US Government prior to the release of the flood of documents.

              Is there evidence of Assange being complicit in Manning's crime?

              Is there enough evidence to show that Assange did commit a crime?

              The short answer is that the US Government doesn't know and is in fact investigating and gathering evidence. You do realize that this is something that they do, right? Its the law.

              So as they work through the evidence and look at leads and gather more evidence. While you don't know what evidence they have,you can't say that they are 'on a fishing' expedition. As I stated in an earlier post, the I MP made public comments concerning her involvement with Assange therefore opening the door to herself being investigated.

              With respect to the Twitter account.

              There was enough evidence of the twitter account to have some involvement with Assange's case for a US Judge to sign off on a subpoena. Again as I pointed out in an earlier post, until the US Government gets the information from Twitter, they don't know who owns the account, and who has been using the account. And yes, when one gets a subpoena, they ask for everything and anything that they can think of.

              What you fail to miss is the fact that it was the I MP that outed herself in public. Twitter doesn't fight the subpoena, the person who wishes to conceal his/her identity does. So all of this occurs in private. So why did she out herself in public?

              Specifically in the law, Twitter is obligated to hand over the information when requested. However they have the right to challenge the Sub and to allow the individual to fight the sub as well. This is actually quite common and its not just the government getting a subpoena. Many companies sue John Doe and then get a subpoena to get the identity of the individual. I was tangentially involved in such a case. (And yes, I've had a government agency subpoena my identity too.) In this case, the individual fought the sub and won. (He shared his identity with the judge in private and showed that he was not the individual that they thought he was.)

              So yes, while you whine about the unfair actions of the US Government, please understand what you are talking about. There is an ongoing investigation and when the time comes, the Government will make their case and connect the dots. Jumping to conclusions that the US Government is evil and is the cause of all that is wrong in this world is just absurd.

      2. Chad H.

        But had it been the other way around

        But had it been the other way around, I'm sure the news would be full of the US kicking up a stink.

      3. Ian Michael Gumby
        Big Brother


        Twitter is a US corporation. They must comply with a law enforcement subpoena. Depending on the subpoena, Twitter may or may not disclose that they are subpoenaed. The purpose of the disclosure is to give the individual notification and the ability to challenge the subpoena in court prior to any material being released by Twitter.

        I don't think you understand what is meant by diplomatic immunity.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          Just to clarify...

          Since many here don't really grok the law... (Manning didn't until it was too late..)

          Remarks made in public by Jonsdottir are not protected by her political title. They are public.

          So it is well within the US Government's purview to subpoena information from Twitter. Twitter is a US company and thus bound by the laws of the US. (Read the ToS...)

          Diplomatic Immunity would protect Jonsdottir from criminal charges within the US, however, it would be reasonable for the US to ban her entrance to the US at any future date if they so choose.

          Jonsdottir could actually be in trouble in Sweden based on the following quoted remarks:

          “He certainly had fun at the party,” Jónsdóttir was quoted as saying. “I said it would be a bit of a prank to take him and see if they knew who he was. I don't think they had any idea.”


          Clearly the US Government is building its case against Assange. There is no need for fabrication of evidence and any claim is merely a smoke screen to deflect damage from Assange.

          Jonsdottir admittedly knew and aided Assange in his quest to attempt to hurt the US. This goes back to his youthful hacking days where he was convicted of hacking the US's computers. The point is that Jonsdottir was by her own admissions complicit w Assange. That is to say that her 'folly' of taking Assange to a US Ambassador's function has real repercussions.

          It doesn't have to be the US Government, but depending on the outcome of the investigation, the Swedish Government can take action against her. Diplomatic immunity would protect her from charges in the US, but not Sweden.

          It doesn't take a genius to see what the US is doing and while we don't have the exact details of what they find, eventually that too will come to light. Yes, Virginia, there is a Wolf and his name is Assange. The US is very transparent...

          1. Klaus

            Comprehension Fail

            1) You do realize she's a Finn right? How the hell is she going to get into trouble in Sweden?

            2) "hurting" the US, the last I checked was not a crime. Especially when "hurting" only entails posting what US representative actually did or said. This is called reporting and/or journalism, you should look it up.

            1. Ian Michael Gumby


              So sorry,

              I misspoke when I said Sweden since Iceland is a Scandinavian country and should be recognized as such.

              But Iceland isn't Finland, so I don't know why a Finn would be in Iceland's government?

              So, am I bad for saying Sweden, or are you worse for saying Finn instead of Iceland when you tried to correct me.

              Lets face it... all of Scandinavia would fit in a small portion of the US. (Wisconsin maybe?)

              As to your point. The last time I checked. Espionage against the US would be considered hurting the US and that is a crime... So yes hurting the US could be a criminal act.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Double fail

              You do realize she's Icelandic, right?

        2. Oninoshiko

          @Ian Michael Gumby

          Congradulations, Ian. You managed to agree with me.

          Reread what I was saying, go on, my post can wait.

          The US government obtained information from a US company in accordance with US law. Noone sould be suprised. The was the core point I was making. I would expect any other nation, given the same situation, to do the same thing.

          Immunity was the only even vaguely relevent excuse for some form of improprity, and I came to the (albit maybe not well worded) conclusion that it would be kind to call that a "long shot."

    2. Ian Michael Gumby


      Wikileaks dumps 1000s of confidential (classified) documents on the world claiming a need for better transparency.

      Yet when the US government is in the midst of a criminal investigation, those same people who championed Wikileaks' action are now condemning the US government's legal request for information?

      And note that since one is a member of Parliament of Iceland, she believes that she should not be held to the same level of scrutiny and transparency that she demands of the US?

      Total fail on the part of Wikileaks and their supporters.

      Posted non-anon because I believe in what I say.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @"Ian Michael Gumby"

        "Posted non-anon"

        You have admitted previously that "Ian Michael Gumby" is not your real name.

        Stop claiming to be non-anonymous when you are nothing of the sort. Your pseudonym is just as anonymous as any other pseudonym, including "anonymous coward".

        1. Ian Michael Gumby


          While Ian Michael Gumby is clearly not my name, it is also true that its not anon. That is there is only one Gumby who posts here. When you post as anon, you can be anyone...

          That's the point. I'm not afraid to associate my posts with my alias.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Twitter? What could they possible want from Twitter?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Hillary Clinton...

      ...wants to know everything. Even your Tweets.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      The more evidence they can gather ....

      .... to 'fit' the crime, the easier it will be for them to claim that some illegality has occurred.

    3. Tom 13

      Confirmation that her Twitter alias

      is actually owned by her? These minor details are extremely important in a US court of law.

  3. oldredlion

    Deary me

    She admits helping Assange in the past so she is obviously guilty of something, right kids?

    Nothing to fear, nothing to hide. Hurrah for the US!

  4. Chronigan

    And the story is?

    Grand Jury is investigating a supposed crime to see if charges should be filed. They go through the legal procedure of issuing a subpoena to a company for records of a user. Where's the problem? Any other case requesting records on any other user and this wouldn't be here. Until and IF charges are filed all we have is rumor and innuendo.

    Oh, and just to make it clear Twitter would respond to any request from any country as long as that request is made however that countries laws require. They are a business first and foremost.

    And this is not about Free Speech, no one is trying to censor her. The subpoena is to enter who she is and what she said in a public forum into the record of the court. In the US if you say or do something in public you have no expectation of privacy or anonymity.

    So, please, WHAT IS THE STORY.

    1. PaulW

      Re: And the story is? (why doesnt it do this automatically?)

      "Oh, and just to make it clear Twitter would respond to any request from any country as long as that request is made however that countries laws require"

      I think you mean:

      Oh, and just to make it clear Twitter would respond to any request from any country as long as **it has an office in that country the resquest is made in, in order to keep doing business there as it has no choice**.

      I very much doubt that it would even bother to respond to a request from e.g. Australia as it has no presence there and would enjoy sticking too fingers up at the Aussies (much like we did over the Ashes ;) )

    2. Sean Baggaley 1

      What "supposed crime"?

      "Grand Jury is investigating a supposed crime to see if charges should be filed."

      Last time I looked, the US knew damned well who "leaked" the information and passed it onto WikiLeaks, and it sure as hell wasn't Mr. Assange. They already *have* their leak.

      WikiLeaks is notionally based (if such a term can be applied to such a "distributed entity") in Sweden, so if any laws apply to the site, it is those of that country.

      The Swedes appear to be trying to accuse Mr. Assange of an entirely separate crime of rape. (Albeit a particularly bizarre form of rape where both adults concerned gave their consent. Good luck with that one.) It's hard to see how the US will be able to justify extradition based on this, even if Assange *were* to be found guilty of it.

      WikiLeaks itself has not broken *any* Swedish laws. US laws do not apply to Swedes, thanks in large part to a concept with which rather too many Americans appear to be unfamiliar: "sovereignty".

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        @Sean Baggaley

        So what is the involvement by Assange and Wikileaks?

        That was a rhetorical question. Only Assange and Wikileaks insiders can answer that. Was Wikileaks merely a conduit or did Assange play part in Manning's act?

        So the US Government is investigating what happened.

        The fact that this member of Swedish Parliament helped Assange to 'sneak' in to a US Ambassador's function, puts herself in to an interesting situation.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          "this member of Swedish Parliament"

          Jónsdóttir has a finger in that pie too?

          > 'sneak' in to a US Ambassador's function

          A cocktail party at the ambassador's residence. A top-secret venue if there ever was one, and if security was so lax that uninvited people were able to enter, then either the US should be putting better gorillas at the door, or it was not very secret to begin with.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      "In the US if you say or do something in public you have no expectation of privacy or anonymity"

      Firstly, last time I looked, Iceland was not in the USA.

      Secondly, it isn't really her tweets they want. The court has stated that they want "user names, addresses, connection records, telephone numbers and payment details". I doubt very much that she has made any of this information public nor was it ever intended to be.

      This is simply done in the desperate hope of finding some wrongdoing and someone to pin it on. I believe that lawyers call this "a fishing expedition". Others may call it a witch hunt.


      1. Tom 13

        Actually, all of that information is necessary to

        prove the account is owned by, controlled, and used by her and her alone.

        If it's only an address it's open to the "someone forged my address" counter.

        Without the connection records, it's open to the "someone else used my computer" counter. Same goes for the telephone numbers. The only way to legal prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her tweets are from her is to have ALL that information.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby


        Surely you jest when you say that you actually looked to see if Iceland was not the USA. I'd consider your remark to be sarcasm, however the intelligence shown on the part of Assange's followers leaves one to doubt.

        To answer your question...

        Twitter is a US based corporation. Twitter posts are in the public domain. Therefore it is the right of the US Government to subpoena Twitter to gain the identity of the person or persons unknown who made such posts. Of course that is to say that the posts and the account in questions must be relative to an ongoing criminal investigation for there to be a law enforcement subpoena. And the subpoena requires a judge to sign off on the Law Enforcement's request. (LE or LEO).

        The fact that the owner of the account happens to be in Sweden and has admittedly outed herself is a moot point. The US Government has the right to this information and the burden of blocking the request now falls upon the lady in Sweden. Regardless of the fact she is in Sweden anyone can create an account and pretend to be someone else and tweet in their name. (Fake Steve Jobs for example...) The US Government is required by law to do their due diligence investigating a crime before the can bring charges.

        The information being requested is in fact very routine. I wonder why the lady protests too much? Were it Nancy Pelosi the US Government would request the same information. (Nancy Pelosi is a very liberal Democrat from California and was former speaker of the House, for those who are not familiar with US politics.)

        So you're wrong as to what the story is...

        The real story is that you have some woman who has in the past admitted that she was an anarchist and is currently in the Swedish government who has intimate knowledge of Assange and his quest to hurt the US Government. She also has admittedly assisted Assange by getting him in to an US Ambassador's function on a 'lark'.

        The real story is that while Wikileaks and their followers justify dumping 1000s of 'classified' US documents that were not properly vetted or for the most part had any value as evidence in a 'whistle blowing' incident, he and his supporters cry foul when the US Government goes through legal channels to obtain evidence of their actions. It is a further example of the irony we know as Assange.

        The real story is that as journalists and the US Government dig in to Assange, they expose him to be less about whistle blowing but more about being an anarchist sociopath.

        I expect this to be down voted, because you and others can't handle the truth.

        With respect to your comments about a 'witch hunt' or 'fishing expedition', this is not the case.

        There was a breach and a crime has been committed. The US is investigating all of those parties involved. Please understand that the US Government isn't creating the evidence, they are tying all of the loose ends together so that they can tell a story in court. (Do I need to really explain how the US Justice system works or have you watched enough TV to get the general idea?)

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: & the story is?

      What happens next? What is the Icelandic extradition treaty with the US like? Is it as biased in favour of the US as the UK's?

      In which case she will shortly find herself on trial in the US for doing something in Iceland that is not a crime in Iceland, and will serve a long prison sentence in the US for it.

      Why does the word "arrogance" keep crossing my mind?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Grand Jury is investigating a supposed crime to see if charges should be filed.'

      What crime where? By a non-US citizen not in US jurisdiction, ie: someone to whom US law should be of only academic interest. If Iran starts the 'extraordinary rendition' of US tourists in Europe on the grounds that they *may* have done something which would have been illegal *if* they had been in Iran, do you think the US will say, "Ah well, that seems fair enough"?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    The Land Of the...Free National Security Letter

    ..because that's all the FBI and two dozens of other agencies need to get...anything stored electronically.

    The Icys better set up IceTwatter or something.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    “If Twitter hands over my information...

    ... – then no ones information is save [sic] with Twitter.”

    errrr... since when is your information safe while housed with a commercial entity? It is actually part of their EULA, they will hand your data to any government as long as that government meet the condition for requesting that information (one being, Twitter have a local office/server).

    considering that it is a US company, then the US government have access to every twitter sent by anyone, as long as that twitter have passed through a US based server.

    the fact that you are some sort of a government official doesn't give you any extra protection.

    P.S. the above apply to your email and shopping sites, oh and iTune as well. The more information you give to a commercial entity, the more a government will have access to once you are in their sight.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon


      "then no ones information is save [sic] with Twitter.”

      and so the muggles learn about the lack of privacy when posting on a public forum.

      I'm looking forward to the day (probably in 20 years time at this rate) when I can have an intelligent conversation with a muggle about DNS and expect a non-'look at the weirdo uttering jibberish' response in return.

      1. Alex Rose

        Although I'm a big fan of DNS...

        ...the idea of looking forward to being able to have an intelligent conversation about it with the average man-in-the-street has never occured to me. The people to whom I speak who know about DNS already know it's a pretty neat solution to the problem it solves (despite the known weaknesses in the system) - we therefore don't need to have a conversation about it. I really don't expect anybody else to really be that interested - in much the same way as I wouldn't expect non-accountants to get excited by the differences between LIFO, FIFO and weighted average when it comes to analysing stock value in cost-accounting, non-Barristers to get excited about the latest missive from the Bar Council or non-cyclists to get excited about news of a new polymer for making bike tyres that promises 10% less rolling resistance.

        Also, calling people "muggles" just because their speciality differs from yours is the height of arrogance.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      all this may be true

      but it doesn't mean it's right.

  7. M.A

    whst crimes

    Wikileaks has not committed any crime it published leaked documents as any mrdia organisation would. If wikileaks or Assange is charged so should the British \Gaurdian New york times The BBC and just about most other media outlets.

    No one rom wikileaks stole the cocuments this is just USA tryin to control people in the rest of the world I would tell them stick it where the sun dont shine.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      @M.A besides your spelling and Grammar?

      It is a crime to steal and then publish classified documents. This is true in every country in the world.

      Did Manning steal the documents? He's currently behind bars in solitary confinement in the brig.

      (Military justice is pretty harsh.) Is he guilty? Until he has his day in court, he is considered innocent, however for the sake of this argument, he's guilty.

      Did Manning act alone?

      Until Manning's trial, we won't hear either side of it. For now, only Manning and his conspirators know for sure.

      So the burden is on the US Government to investigate what happened and who was involved.

      What we, the 'public', know is that a crime was committed and that the US is investigating. We also know that Wikileaks and specifically Assange is involved. We also know that Assange was previously convicted of hacking the US Government's computers, and we know what Assange and others have left in the public eye.

      Clearly you haven't been paying attention. Assange isn't the hero you pretend he is.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "For now, only Manning and his conspirators know for sure."

        So, you've already decided that he didn't act alone? I thought that was for the courts.

        "What we, the 'public', know is that a crime was committed"

        We know nothing of the sort. That, again, is for the courts to decide. Stop trying to speak on behalf of people you don't represent.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby


          So the theft of classified documents isn't a crime?

          Silly me, I guess that if no crime was committed, then wikileaks didn't release classified documents, right?

          The point is that it is a *FACT* that wikileaks released these documents.

          It is a *FACT* that the documents released by wikileaks were in fact *STOLEN* *CLASSIFIED* *DOCUMENTS*. (Look at any newspaper and you can see evidence of the crime...)

          Therefore a crime has been committed.

          Let me guess... There's a dead body on the floor with a knife sticking out of his back and you'll say that no crime was committed?

          Give me a break.

          Please stop and think before you post. Its no wonder you post as an AC.

          1. NB

            ur doin it rong.

            >>So the theft of classified documents isn't a crime?

            Sure it is, hence Mannings arrest.

            >>Silly me, I guess that if no crime was committed, then wikileaks didn't release classified documents, right?

            Actually the release of such information by a third party isn't necessarily a crime. I suggest you read up on the Pentagon Papers case, the 1st amendment and the various protections in law (in US law I might add) for whistleblowers.

            Wikileaks hasn't done anything illegal under US law.

            And for citations:



            And Daniel Ellsberg's (y'know, the guy that released the Pentagon Papers) response to the current Wikileaks situation:


  8. Number6

    Nice to be told

    It's nice of Twitter to tell her that it's happening. Next time, no doubt the judge authorising the paperwork will be asked to go the extra mile and prohibit them from informing the victim.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      The initial subpoena DID prevent Twitter telling anybody.

      They challenged it in court and the gagging order was dropped. The rumours are that others such as Google and Facebook have also been served with subpoenas and gagging orders, but have not yet challenged the gagging orders.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Remember When....

    Bush this, Bush that.... and now that the Feds have become 'enlightened' by the current administration... they seem to be more vicious that old 'Deer-in-The-Headlights(1)' Bush ever thought of being in their best/worst nightmares


    Odd that.

    Very heavy sigh for what the Feds do now days. I also pondered posting anonymous for a few minutes. If there is one thing I have seen thus far is that you badmouth them or God_Help_You post video about them, they Will_Come_After_You. And that's fscked up. Not what I was taught about my country

    (1) The man always had that look when doing a televised speech. Did not evoke confidence from my POV.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was There a point that was missed?

    I thought that Wikileaks was all about everything being out in the open, did I get this wrong?

    If not then what could be more open than information being published from everyone to everyone, at least for those who are so keen for everything to be exposed.

    Or are some 'openards' more open than others?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It was the US which promised "transparency in government" not Wikileaks

      You seem to misunderstand what Wikileaks is and what it does, as do far too many others.

      Wikileaks is simply a publishing site for those who wish to leak information.

  11. Matt Hawkins

    Twitter is public you muppet

    Twitter is a US site so anyone using it thinking that their information is private is an idiot. Any information held by a US company is available to the US Government whenever they feel like looking at it.

    But then MPs aren't exactly the brightest people on the planet when it comes to technology.

    Any info you pump into Twitter is public domain. If you are trying to exchange private information via Twitter you are a moron.

    She is surprised that the US Government doesn't respect her status as an MP of the Icelandic Parliament. Of course they don't! Doesn't she realise US law applies to the whole planet! The US Government probably doesn't even know Iceland exists.

    1. Spartacus

      re: Twitter is public you muppet

      Except for the DM part. which is supposedly private (requires username and passwords) unless someone subpoenas it.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby


      "She is surprised that the US Government doesn't respect her status as an MP of the Icelandic Parliament. Of course they don't! Doesn't she realise US law applies to the whole planet! The US Government probably doesn't even know Iceland exists."

      I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or intentionally dull.

      The first part of your post is factually correct.

      However this part is pure hogwash.

      Anyone can create a Twitter account, even pretending to be someone else. So unless the US Government subpoenas the account holder's information, how do they know who 'owns' the account, and where they are located?

      So this has nothing to do with the US not respecting other countries sovereignty but following US laws within the US as they conduct an investigation in to a crime against the US.

      I am surprised that she outed herself.

      I don't think that she realizes just what sort of position she has placed herself within Sweden, or maybe she does and just doesn't care?

      Note: I'm not Swedish or know Swedish laws. Even if her involvement with Assange doesn't violate any laws, ethics are another matter. Embarassment of Sweden? Definitely.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        @Ian Michael Gumby

        "Note: I'm not Swedish or know Swedish laws."

        And neither, apparently, do you know Sweden from the actual Nordic country she's from: Iceland.

  12. mhenriday
    Big Brother

    Hell hath no fury

    like that of an Empire scorned....


  13. John Tserkezis

    A different angle.

    Julian is a very naught boy. He's been making the government look bad.

    The best that said government could do to spank him, is get him on sex without a condom, where the women invovled took two years to realise that what they originally meant by "consensual" was actually "rape". It's an easy mistake to make. After all, they can be bought just like anyone else.

    Now said goverment is going after a politician who says Julian is a hero, and the goverment are a buch of twats. Let's face it, if you tweet it, it's public. Too bad the goverment needs court intervention to get that.

    Of this, I have to say the media coverage has done two truly wonderful things:

    1/ All this hoo-haa has made people aware of what Wikileaks does, where they may not have even heard about it before.

    2/ They've helped the govermenment make themselves look like the twats they are.

    Never thought I'd hear myself say it. The media rocks. :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Never thought I'd hear myself say it. The media rocks. :-)"

      Mark my words, there will come a time when the concealment of information (on the part of governments) is no longer efficient. At this point the most logical path to take would be to publish everything and anything in order to dilute the juicy bits in with the dross when they are discovered.

      Even when someone does come up with something interesting it is soon lost to the collective memory of 'The Media'.

      Unless you go back and search, can you remember all the embarrassing disclosures that results from the Wikileaks incidents? There has been so much it's hard to remember it all. Imagine that *1000, or *1000000.

      Information overload is a weapon in their arsenal, just as much as marking a document as secret is.

  14. JohnG

    Always read the Terms and Conditions

    "These Terms and any action related thereto will be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to or application of its conflict of law provisions or your state or country of residence. All claims, legal proceedings or litigation arising in connection with the Services will be brought solely in San Francisco County, California, and you consent to the jurisdiction of and venue in such courts and waive any objection as to inconvenient forum"

    Maybe she should have taken time to read and understand Twitter's terms and Conditions when she signed up. Like any company in the USA, Twitter will probably comply with US law - if this comes as a surprise to Ms Jónsdóttir, then she must be a dim.

  15. Phil Lewis

    The Problem with commercial centralised internet services such as this...

    This is IMHO one of the big problems with commercially operated centralised services such as Twitter, Facebook, Gmail et. al. Basically the govt can just order them to hand over info like this en mass. They have made it too easy for the govt. This type of court order would be so much harder for the govt if it were simply standard email or a standardised decentralised service (should they yet exist, OK, maybe Diaspora and certainly distributed SMTP email services).

  16. dogged
    IT Angle

    The interesting part...

    is how much data Twitter actually stores.

    Does it, for example, store IP addresses from which posts are made? We can assume it stores the actual posts but those are published anyway; you wouldn't need a subpoena for those provided you had, er, an Internet connection and a web browser.

    IP addresses may be handy in providing locational data (or, with VPNs and proxies, they may not). MAC addresses definitely would but HTTP doesn't transmit those by default.

    El Reg, if you're going to post this kind of stuff, please give us a hint at what you reckon the Feds are actually hoping to achieve with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Do you really have to ask?

      Twitter stores everything. Just like Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and other internet companies.

      Do you know what Hadoop is?

      Posted Anon because I know too much.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Phishing expedition

    Dig deep enough in the hope that they can find something (parking ticket unpaid?) to justify (to a non US judge) his extradition to the US.

  18. ShaggyDoggy


    We do they need to ask for something the already have ?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge


      By asking they can keep up the pretense of Echelon not existing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        stop saying that word

        it means exactly what you think it means

  19. Danny 2 Silver badge


    "The subpoena is to enter who she is and what she said in a public forum into the record of the court. In the US if you say or do something in public you have no expectation of privacy or anonymity"

    Actually they are after her private tweets which aren't part of the public record, and which she may easily argue she has an expectatiion of being, well, private. Also they are after the IP addresses she used to access the account, many of which may not be from her own PC and perhaps even Icelandic Parliamentary computers. This will allow them to investigate those links through data-mining especially on sites that didn't have the decency to inform her that they too had been subpoenaed.

    Ignore the tech angle, would you be happy if US agents intercepted all the letters, telephone calls and family or casual conversations of an independent foriegn state representative? Oh wait, according to Wikileaks they already do that too as a matter of course...

  20. Garve Scott-Lodge

    The US government / political class is risking a great deal for very little benefit.

    Amazon, Paypal, Facebook, Twitter and Google* are US companies which contribute massive amounts to the US economy. These companies are all global brands, and as such their success relies upon non-US citizens, 95% of the world's population, feeling able to trust them with their data and custom. If due to the US government's actions we start moving to non-US based alternatives the US economy will suffer badly in the long run.

    This huge risk needs to be balanced against what they hope to achieve - the best outcome for the US govt would be that they get their hands on Julian Assange, prosecute him successfully and jail him for a very long time as a deterrent to others. However, anyone following this story knows that that's very unlikely. Extradition from the UK or Sweden to the US will prove almost impossible, and even if he did end up in the US, expert US legal opinion is that it's unlikely that he could actually be prosecuted for anything. Beyond that, the 'deterrent' aspect would also fail utterly - Assange would become a martyr and 100 Wikileaks clones would appear in its place.

    For its own self-interest the US badly needs to take a step back, accept that Wikileaks has a right to exist and tighten up its own internal security to try to prevent leaks in the future. After all, we know that if Wikileaks' current target was Iran, China, Russia or many other countries, the US govt would be applauding them rather than trying to shut them down.

    *It's reported and seems almost certain that Facebook and Google have received subpoenas along with Twitter. Apple's actions in removing a Wikileaks app probably have more to do with their own procedures than any political pressure. The most likely to suffer is Paypal - I am very angry that a US Republican senator can control who I can and can't donate to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Paypal is getting famous for locking "suspicious" accounts. Their definition of "suspicious" is often "any account with some cash on hand".

      Some examples includes Notch (an independant game dev which made quite a buzz with his lego-like Minecraft), several webcomics relying on donations and relief funds setup by NGOs...

  21. Matt_V

    What they're after

    According to the BBC: The US District Court in Virginia said it wanted information including user names, addresses, connection records, telephone numbers and payment details.

    Why go to twitter for that lot though?!

    Current link to story is:

  22. Greemble
    Black Helicopters

    Just to get this straight

    The U.S. authorities have taken the correct legal procedures asking for a copy of all the 'tweets' from a specific account and asked Twitter to (presumably) identify the account holder.

    Firstly, isn't the point of Twitter a means to send messages publicly? That is, not privately.So the 'Feds' (whichever branch is asking) just want to be sure they've not missed any - publicly - sent tweets. Not really invading much in the way of privacy there, I'm guessing.

    Secondly, the 'Feds' want to know who the account holder actually is. "Do they realize I'm a Member of Parliament in Iceland?" Probably not, otherwise why would they be asking? Unless they are looking for confirmation.

    Of course, how would Twitter know the account holder actually is who they say they are - does Twitter require some sort of verification?

    Black helicopters - They must be up to something - this is probably a distraction or decoy operation...

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Black Helicopters


      The US Government is actually acting in accordance to US law. That is, everything they are doing is by the book.

      They may know the answer, but as a matter of law they have to document what they know and as you put it... verification of what they know or suspect.

      There's also more too it...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        re: There's also more too it...

        Have you read the Subpoena? May I suggest you do.

        There's also more too it...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Will it really matter?

    Us has plopped on Iceland a few times already.

    Another plop isn't going to make too much of a broo-ha-ha is it?

  24. nation of stupid

    sealed subpoena

    What's missing from most news articles including this one is that the first subpoena presented to Twitter was ordered sealed - Twitter was supposed to reveal all the information they have without informing the users at all. It was only unsealed at Twitters request so Twitter could ask the users named if they want to object. If the same sealed subpoena has been sent to other organisations such as Facebook, Google, Wikileaks' web hosts, etc and they had not requested it be unsealed they would have to to send the information to the DOJ and are not allowed to inform the users they have done so.

    Explains why the news is over Twitter feeds when almost everything they have is publicly available, while there are other organisations holding much more private information have made no mention of it.

    It's also known that the DOJ have also requested the names and IP address of every follower of Wikileaks on Twitter. I wouldn't be surprised if they have requested the details of everyone who has donated to them, friended them on facebook, or any minor connection with them.

    The leaks have shown the US government like to throw their weight around and have little respect for the law. Their response seems to be to throw their weight around with no respect for the law.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Lesson One: Avoid American Businesses

    If the Wikileaks witchhunt teaches us anything it is to avoid doing business with American based companies.

    Part of the information being grabbed includes credit card details which will give them access to any transactions on that card. The card company doesn't have to be American as we apparently hand over details of all such transactions whenever requested by America. You can thank the EU for that one.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Privacy Smivacy...

    Twatter and Face Bash are mostly bullshit anyway.

    It's like being told "OH we are all friends - happy community blah blah blah".... much like the same stunt that Ebay used to pull.

    These companies - they have their uses but if you REALLY need to communicate, use your own private encrypted email service or the phone or a fax...

    The only thing Twatter and Face Bash have is the sense of being important amongst a huge group of people who for the larger part, really don't give much of a shit for you and your crap anyway.

    Commercially - there may be benefits in using it.....

    But I retired from these retarded scam artist companies - when I saw what a never ending stream of bullshit went into them and came out of them, and got a taste of Face Bash's dodgy (scam artist) privacy settings and their exposure of all your information to the whole world - without your consent.

    To me if you HAVE A REASON for it, then do it, but most of these sites are just a waste of time - like some fucking live in fantasy advertisement.

  27. James Woods

    kudos to twitter

    For at least telling people what's going on.

    I wasn't aware bank of america gave wikileaks a hard time. After reading this i've asked them for a statement since I bank with them.

    Bank of America gives credit cards to illegal aliens & imports foreigners to work here and undercut the US job market (not like we don't have people that need jobs; bank of america just needs drones).

    I didn't boycott PayPal since they pointed a finger at the state department (later rescinded but I believe the initial finger pointing).

    If bank of america denied service to WL yet allows service to illegal aliens & imports foreigners when we have 20% unemployment rates I know I will be leaving them.

    Hopefully they will respond telling me the state department is to blame but I doub that'll be the response.

    Our justice department doesn't have a problem with illegal aliens.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    No one's information is safe...

    And why is that a surprise to anyone?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Aren't tweets public anyway?

    I don't get it, what exactly are they looking to obtain from Twitter - the only thing I can think of that isn't already public are the IP addresses tweets were made from, and account password. Given that they already know the identity of the person making the tweets, and the contents of the tweets, what possible private information are they looking to obtain?

  30. Winkypop Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Typical US intelligence fishing expedition....

    When you don't have any evidence........make it up!

    It worked for Guantanamo.

  31. Steen Larsen
    Thumb Up

    Well done Twitter! (no sarcasm!)

    Good to see that Twitter is open about this and informs their users before handing over the data. Many other companies would just hand it over silently!

  32. David Gjester

    Whats up with making fun of Birgitta Jónsdóttirs English?

    Talk about missing the point of your own article.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      So you consider

      an editor adding [sic] after a quoted spelling or grammatical error to be "making fun of someone's language"?

      It's standard procedure to indicate the error is in the quote.

  33. ceebee


    The "Feds" want to link Assange directly to the theft of the documents. They are trolling through anything that may find them a smoking gun that Assange directly asked Pvt. Manning to steal material.

    They are subpoenaing the tweets, Facebook, and anything else they than can think of, of Wikileak supporters for this reason (and I suspect in an effort to scare people) in the hope that somewhere something will show that Assange was silly enough to break a US law.

    Obviously it has proven a difficult exercise so far as if the there is evidence it is well hidden.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "something will show that Assange was silly enough to break a US law."

      that is too short sighted, they need him to break _some_ law somewhere where he can be arrested (in this case, the UK or EU). You can bet that this will be one of those very few occasions where the US will pass every bit that they deem relevant to other countries.

  34. david 12 Silver badge

    Sam Watson, embarrassing dispatches

    What did Sam Watson, "the embassy's deputy chief of mission," have to say about "the US and UK role" following the bank collapse?

    Interested people want to know!

    I can't find it, and Google is now just full of other repeats of this story.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Nope, nothing to see here...

    I dearly wish that the powers that be would stop persecuting the obvious targets and make a start on rounding up all those "oh so clever" people who use such puerile terms such as Twatter, FaceBash and (for the love of all things holy) Micro$oft.

    We get it, you are so much better than us mere consumers... Now get over yourselves and grow up!

    (And no, I haven't had my morning coffee yet)

    Serious note- Twitter is simply put a highly targetable broadcast mechanism, as is facebook. Unlike radio broadcasts, which can be roughly triangulated, anything you broadcast via Twitter is pretty much directly traceable to you, or at least your account. It is in no way anonymous nor is it a private medium. Anyone using it for confidential comms is either a numpty or a lacks sufficient knowledge of the system.

    I agree with AC above (Aren't tweets public anyway?) in that I can see very little to gain from this action as all the "meat" is already public domain.

  36. Spartacus

    Diplomatic/Parlimentary Privilege

    Surely there is potential for a bit of a diplomatic storm over this one. Whilst a lot of twitter is public the Private messaging system is just that, private. It could comntain private missives from constiuants to their MP, and hence could be subject to Privilege in Iceland, So should the US honor this? in my opinion if privilege exists in Icelend then diplomatically the US should honour it. as to whether they will or not time will tell.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby


      You really don't get it.

      Suppose you created a Twitter account claiming that you were the queen of England?

      How would the US Government know that you were or were not the queen? (A queen maybe, but not the Queen of England...)

      Hence the subpoena.

      As to LE subs yes they are usually kept secret and it was a decision of Twitter's counsel to challenge the need to keep this secret. (Perhaps they did their own investigation, found out who owned the account and then decided that it was in their (Twitters) best interest to ask that the account's owner be notified?) ;-)

      [Note: This is usually the case. Were it you pretending to be the Queen, they probably wouldn't have gone through this hassle.]

      As such, the silly git in Sweden has no expectations of privilege. All she is doing is embarrassing her government and her constituents.

      1. asiaseen

        Mr Gumby, you are seriously in need

        of a geography lesson. Ms Jonsdottir is Icelandic. Iceland IS NOT Sweden and Sweden IS NOT Iceland.

      2. Spartacus

        Mr Gumby, you are seriously in need. MkII

        Oh Im sorry has me extended reading confused you. Twitter managed to get the subpoena unsealed because it actually IS that of an MP. If it were someone pretending to be the queen the subpoena would have remained sealed, and none of us would know about it.

        The subpoenea was not restricted to the identity, and is for ALL the data of an MP, hence twitters ability/actions to request unsealing of the subpeona and allow a legal protest. My point is that the protest may be more than legal and could/should be a diplomatic issue.

        does that make it more clear? Do I get it yet?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is my holiday in the US up the spout?

    I follow Wikileaks on Twitter and Facebook. Presumably the info requested by the US authorities will include the 'followers' and 'friends' of WL. Will that affect me when I try to get a visa for Disneyland, or will I just get put back on the plane? Oh well, Blackpool it is again.

  38. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Another subpoena

    concerns the tweets of Rop Gonggrijp, a Dutch hacker who, with a few others, set up XS4ALL, the first public ISP in the Netherlands. Nowadays he is involved with exposing flaws in voting computers ("Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" : we don't trust voting computers), and other privacy/security-sensitive government IT projects.

    A very tendentious article in the Dutch fishwrapping "Telegraaf" quotes the self-proclaimed security expert Peter Siebelt, who calls Gonggrijp a "master hacker", "cyberterrorist" and "dangerously subversive", with ties to squatters' organisations (as true as it is irrelevant), the German CCC, and through them to the RAF and the KGB. There's also, according to the Telegraaf, a Turkish financier who has offered several million Euros to have Wikileaks hosted "at a resilient and trustworthy Dutch hoster".

    Tinfoil clearly has been in great demand in these circles, the past weeks. About the only truthful quote is that Gonggrijp (and Assange) would never be so dumb as to expose sensitive info via Twitter.

    An interview with Gonggrijp himself in De Volkskrant ridicules the subpoena, with a statement that "I'm a very sparse Twitterer, I send a message maybe once a month."

  39. mark 63 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    i dont get it

    I'm sorry i dont see the problem

    You tweet stuff for months or years.. IE you pubicly broadcast it into the public domain - and then you dont want the US to have that information?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      try actually reading the subpoena

      if you have a long enough attention span

      most of the info they are after is NOT in the public domain

  40. Danny 2 Silver badge

    @Stoneshop - XS4ALL

    XS4ALL were part of what made the Nederlands great (past-tense). If if wasn't for their support the world wouldn't have known that airliners regularly used Depleted Uranium as ballast, following the El Al crash in Amsterdam in '92.

    And but for that, 911 would have been a helluva lot worse for New Yorkers.

  41. Tree & Tree = Dirty Tree


    1st - You can post almost anything you want on Twitter (with rare exceptions). Its called freedom of speech.

    2nd - Not agreeing with a government, even attacking your government openly for perceived misconduct, is not a crime if you don't break a law doing so- unless you live in a fascist or otherwise totalitarian country. It's called executing your democratic rights, and responsible journalism.

    3rd - Anything you say on twitter is public. Anyone who followed that person from the start does have that information already (or don't they?). In fact, anything you say or do on the internet is as public as doing in the middle of Trafalgar square.

    4th - Governments do have certain rights and possibilities if they are manifested in that countries law. The question is with which intention it does make use of them- and if the populace has a chance to change those rights if there is a majority for it. It doesn't get more democratic than that.

    So the problem is not the government getting information illegally. It is totally legal for the government to obtain this information.

    It is also not the possibility that it may find something incriminating as that person has the right to say whatever she wants. And even to do, again as long as she doesn't break any law in the country she moves about.

    The problem is a government intimidating and bullying "annoying" people by raiding their homes and confiscating their property (journalists computers seized), harassing them with prolonged and exaggerated use of administrative procedures (security consultants detained, searched and questioned at airports), and sending them 'messages' by intruding into peoples privacy just to show they can (this case).

    The message between the lines is: we have the power, you have no chance against us.We know who you are, what you do and where to find you. You better be careful what you do and say, or else...

    It's sad, and frankly frightening, to see just how far things have gone in the country that claims to be worlds safe guardian for freedom and democracy.

  42. Schultz

    Reg missed the story

    The Reg missed the real story: Twitter was asked to hand over all that information secretly, but fought the secret part of the injunction. Apparently they succeeded and then went to contact the concerned parties.

    Makes you wonder which other US companies got the questionnaires and answered without further ado. Who cares? Maybe everyone who ever sent confidential data via an American channel. The American clouds just lost their silver shine.

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