The US Justice Department dismissed, all free speech and privacy concerns about its request for accessing the Twitter accounts of Wikileaks volunteers, as absurd in an announcement a few days ago. Prosecutors had described this demand for a court order as a routine compelled disclosure that does not raise any constitutional issues, in a 32 page brief which was filed in federal court in Virginia. Prosecutors said that these types of records were widely subpoenaed by grand juries without raising any major issues or prompting constitutional litigation delays. They also called the claims asserting that the logs of Titter were subject to heightened protections under the first amendment as baseless, adding that the internet addresses provided to a third party cannot harbour legitimate expectations of privacy.
The brief was then followed by an appeal filed by the attorneys representing the Wikileaks volunteers on March 25th. A hearing in Arlington before the US District Judge Liam O’Grady has been scheduled for later this month. The appeal from the attorneys to O’Grady is aimed at throwing out a ruling made by a magistrate judge on the 11th of March which granted access to the accounts including the information related to the internet addresses and email IDs associated with them, to the prosecutors. The court order was sought by the government as part of a probe by a grand jury which looks like it is investigating whether the principals of Wikileaks, which includes Julian Assange, have violated American criminal laws.
The brief filed by the Justice Department asking O’Grady to ask Twitter to comply with the demands, also gives a number of arguments like, instead of civil procedures, criminal procedures should apply, the order is in accordance with the Stored Communications Act and that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to the case.