The US government is being accused of seeking to win the right to order Twitter to hand over private account details, as the WikiLeaks row continues to escalate.
Lawyers for civil rights groups are in court claiming the government has set up a a secret grand jury to investigate whether a criminal case can be brought against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “As part of that investigation the grand jury ordered Twitter to disclose the details of the accounts of WikiLeaks and three people said to be linked to the organisation,” according to MediaGuardian.
One lawyer, John Keker, argued that giving the government permission to do so would allow it to intrude into the lives of individuals previously protected by constitutional rights. “This is something brand new,” he said.
The court case, which is turning into a cause célèbre in the US, emerged as US secretary Hilary Clinton gave a speech praising the role of social networks in the wake of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
She said: “Liberty and security. Transparency and confidentiality. Freedom of expression and tolerance. There are times when these principles will raise tensions and pose challenges, but we do not have to choose among them. And we shouldn’t. Together they comprise the foundation of a free and open internet.”
She added that the US backed internet freedom and encouraged other countries to do the same: “Leaders worldwide have a choice to make. They can let the internet in their countries flourish, and take the risk that the freedoms it enables will lead to a greater demand for political rights. Or they can constrict the internet, choke the freedoms it naturally sustains—and risk losing all the economic and social benefits that come from a networked society.”
Image of Supreme Court taken by Flickr user dbking, licensed under Creative Commons.