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.