Wikileaks supporters targeted in secret US court order

By Lee Kaelin on October 11, 2011, 12:30 PM

The US government has obtained a secret court order to force Google and a small ISP called Sonic, to hand over the information contained in the email accounts of a Wikileaks volunteer. The request included the emails and addresses of people that Jacob Appelbaum had been in contact with in the last two years.

Appelbaum works as a developer for the Tor Project, a non-profit organization that provides free tools to help people wishing to remain anonymous while traversing the web. The 28-year old is yet to be charged with any offense.

Sonic fought the government order but lost, forcing it to turn over information about the individual, the company's chief executive said when speaking to the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Google was also presented with a order to hand over information, including IP addresses Appelbaum had used when logging into its Gmail service, as well as the email addresses and IPs of anyone he'd corresponded with between November 1, 2009 and January 4, 2011 -- the date of the order. So far the search giant has declined to comment on the matter and it is not known if they fought it, or just handed the information over.

The court orders are considered very controversial and highlight a growing resentment by American's regarding the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows the US government to secretly obtain information from individuals' emails and phones without even requiring a search warrant.

Wikileaks hit the headlines last year when it released thousands of secret diplomatic communications and a classified video of the controversial American military operations in Iraq, leaving the US government embarrassed and angry.

Earlier this year, Twitter fought a similar court order after being told to hand over the account information of several Wikileaks supporters, including Appelbaum, as part of the Department of Justice's ongoing investigation into the release of confidential US documents by Wikileaks. Twitter has yet to release any of the requested information.

User Comments: 9

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mosu said:

Under those circumstances, I wonder who wants to comment at all.

MilwaukeeMike said:

A 'secret' court order? and the story is right here on TS. That's not very secret.

I'm no laywer, but the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was passed in 1986 (before the internet) to PREVENT the govt from doing unauthorized wire taps etc. Sure you're not confusing that act with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? Thats the act the Bush administration used to defend their 'unauthorized' wiretaps of foreign communication, and it's what caused all the arguing about wiretaps a few years ago. But unless you're calling Saudi Arabia, you won't show up on thier lists.

Guest said:

The Internet was created a long time before that. I think you mean the web.

treetops treetops said:

I wonder if they can seize medical records without a court order now too.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is McCarthyism plain and simple. Welcome to the Red Scare of the 21st century.

Guest said:

As you will find , coverage of this news item will be a blip vert at best.

fascism and corporatism have reached a height that most see little difference

between glob trotting businesses and the government itself.

We as a country are suffering a time warp to the 50's and the McCarthy era

where in place of honest civil discourse we have the full might and force

of government used to subvert our constitution at every turn.

Perhaps one of the few amendments yet to be offended is the 3rd and

it's prohibition against the quartering of troops in our very homes.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Wendig0 said:

This is McCarthyism plain and simple. Welcome to the Red Scare of the 21st century.

Sadly +1, .

Guest said:

I think that the government is mad that wikileaks got out. All their precious secrets released on the internet and now they are targeting the wikileaks supporters. If you don't know how wikileaks got out, this article gives an easy explanation on it.

TJGeezer said:

Wendig0 said:

This is McCarthyism plain and simple. Welcome to the Red Scare of the 21st century.

...except that Eisenhower was principled enough to use executive power to end it. Haven't seen that principled a chief executive in the U.S. for a very long time now.

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