|How private can you really be on the Internet?|
Last month, a lower court ruled against the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation
, which tried to block the U.S. government from obtaining secret tweets for its WikiLeaks investigation.
Now the EFF, which works to protect the people's digital rights, has appealed the high-profile case involving Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, whose tweets and other private records have been requested by the government. On Friday, the higher court will hear oral arguments for the case.
According to the EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union, the government's effort to view Jonsdottir's tweets as part of the ongoing WikiLeaks investigation is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The groups claim that the requests are unnecessary. "The information they want from the Twitter users is who she has been talking to and when," says Rebecca Jeschke, spokeswoman for the EFF. "That's a freedom of association issue without enough cause to know if this would help with the WikiLeaks investigation."
As it stands, Twitter doesn't have
to inform its users when the government asks it to turn
over user information, including tweets. However, Jeschke says, Twitter informed
Jonsdottir and two other users who have joined the lawsuit. Part of
what Jonsdottir wants to know is how many other social networking sites were asked to turn over information about her without her knowledge.
The investigation involves Bradley Manning, an American soldier who was arrested on suspicion of providing classified information to WikiLeaks. In addition to accessing Manning's Twitter account, a judge ordered that the government could get access to other targeted users, including
Jonsdottir. That information includes Twitter activity -- the date, time, and method of connections -- as well as financial records, addresses, and Internet provider information.
The oral arguments will take place on Friday at 10 a.m. in Alexandria, Virginia.