by Andy Greenberg  11/10/2011 Forbes  

A U.S. District Court dealt two blows Thursday to the three WikiLeaks associates fighting a ruling that gives a grand jury access to their private Twitter data: One decision declaring that their private information on Twitter should be revealed, and another that the three had no right to demand that other secret legal requests for users’ private Internet data be made public in either this case or in the future.

Since January, the three WikiLeaks associates–Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, encryption entrepreneur Rop Gongrjip and researcher Jacob Appelbaum–have been fighting a grand jury’s efforts to gain access to their information in an investigation of WikiLeaks’ release of a classified military video of a helicopter firing on civilians and journalists. But echoing an earlier court’s decision, the judge’s ruling (PDF posted by Wired here) stated that the three WikiLeakers had no reasonable expectation of privacy in their use of Twitter, thanks in part to their agreeing to Twitter’s privacy policy, which allows law enforcement to access a user’s IP address.

The trio’s legal team had argued that no one reads those privacy policies. (Which at least one study has demonstrated.) But Thursday’s ruling throws out that argument, stating that “petitioners’ apparent willingness to provide their information to Twitter—with or without reading Twitter’s policies—weighs in favor of finding that petitioners voluntarily revealed their IP address information to Twitter.” It cites a telling dialogue between one of WikiLeakers’ lawyers and the judge in the preceding case:

The Court: Your clients seem like pretty knowledgeable people, and they did agree to Twitter’s privacy policy, did they not?

Mr. Keker: They—I wouldn’t accept that they agreed to Twitter privacy policy.

The Court: They were informed of it at any rate.

Mr. Keker: They went ahead with Twitter in the face—I have had those things pop up in my screen every time I have gotten a new program. I think their—I have—

The Court: So, you don’t read them?

Mr. Keker: I have never read the whole thing. So saying they agreed to it, it was jammed down their throat. Yes, it appeared on the screen, there is no question about that.

The Court: Well, it would be a condition of creating a Twitter account, would it not?

Mr. Keker: Correct, that’s true.

The Court: Okay. And they agreed to that, correct?

Mr. Keker: They created a Twitter account, that’s certainly true.

The Court: All right. Subject to that. Okay.

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