US DOJ wants my twitter account info

It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that somewhere, far away, people are thinking about you. Last night I received this rather interesting e-mail from twitter:

Kessel, Jan-07 11:20 am (PST):
Dear Twitter User:

We are writing to inform you that Twitter has received legal process requesting information regarding your Twitter account, @rop_g. A copy of the legal process is attached. The legal process requires Twitter to produce documents related to your account.

Please be advised that Twitter will respond to this request in 10 days from the date of this notice unless we receive notice from you that a motion to quash the legal process has been filed or that this matter has been otherwise resolved.

To respond to this notice, please e-mail us at <removed>.

This notice is not legal advice. You may wish to consult legal counsel about this matter. If you need assistance seeking counsel, you may consider contacting the Electronic Frontier Foundation <contact info removed> or the ACLU <contact info removed>.


Twitter Legal

While I was still thinking about whether to write about this or talk to my lawyer first, I was told the mail and attachments were already published by Glenn Greenwald at, including the original subpoena dated December 14, 2010. It says the DOJ wants twitter’s records on Jacob Appelbaum (a.k.a. ioerror), Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and yours truly. This all because, apparently, “the Court finds that the applicant has offered specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the records or other information sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Plenty of thoughts to be had over this one. For one: in a case like this you’d think they would check the spelling of my last name. Furthermore I would have guessed that the US government has more discreet and effective ways of getting my IP-number, which is essentially all this would get them.

Also it appears that twitter, as a matter of policy, does the right thing in wanting to inform their users when one of these comes in. For those who wonder if twitter ignored a court order by telling me: I did get a second PDF with a January 5 order to unseal the subpoena so that twitter could tell me, which is quite possibly the result of some communication between twitter and the DOJ. Heaven knows how many places have received similar subpoenas and just quietly submitted all they had on me.

128 thoughts on “US DOJ wants my twitter account info”

  1. Very good of Twitter to first get the court order unsealed (they dit that) and then inform you about it. Totally true that there are probably many other sites that are just handing over everything that they have and not tell you about it. Ga er maar gerust vanuit dat het inderdaad zo is dat men op deze manier de evtl. via afluisteren verkregen info legaal eruit wil laten zien.
    Correct response would be to bring down the computersystems of the fucking Pentagon. Take the fight to the enemy. Ik maak me geen zorgen over extra aandacht van die hufters omdat ze toch al over 20 jaar in mijn telefoonverbinding hangen.


  2. Next thing you know, Sarah Palin will say you’re unAmerican.

    My government has no resources to prosecute the perpetrators of Bush’s worldwide torture program but Mr. Holder has the resources to stalk Wikileaks and its supporters. Bin Laden is free but Assange is wearing a monitor. If Hugo Chavez did something like this, PJ Crowley would have five minutes on it immediately.

  3. you spelled ‘discreet’ wrong in the next sentence, but with you in principle :/ fight the power

  4. Pat: Would any of the data indicate your location when tweeting…?

    Yup. Information on IP records is part and parcel of the connection records request. Original subpoena PDF link above, page 4, Attachment A, point A4.

    Tell them to go to hell, Rop. In, of course, a legally-appropriate phraseology.

  5. jd: I discreetly fixed that… 🙂

    Pat, Off Colfax: I generally use a VPN. And I don’t tweet all that much.

  6. Robbert,

    You and I have never spoken, however, on behalf of all of the United States Citizens that care about Constitutional rights and how the US government is turning us into the next USSR – I apologize for our government’s harassment of you and this witch hunt going on with regard to Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

    There are many in America whom feel that this is a direct violation of the Constitution and the SCA is severely outdated. I’m sure this will be contested in court and I think that Twitter is trying to do the right thing, although like most places, they will be pressured by the US and Corporate America just like Wikileaks was and still is.

    I know my words probably don’t mean much at this point because the damage is already done, however, just know that there are those out here who are fighting very hard to keep our Constitution in tact so that in the future, things like this won’t happen again.

    We The People…stand by you. At least those of us who are true American Citizens.

    – Jamie aka ThaBoas

  7. RT: @EditorAMPM = i think it would be newsworthy if the icelandic DoJ would request similar information from USA representatives

    Maybe Europe can start a criminal investigation into the manipulation by certain government officials?

  8. … For they fear the technical and ethical superiority of their
    opponents. Dear Rop, you may have hit them with truth.
    What else can they do to suppress their fear but to retaliate?

    Or in other words: who needs an ip number if they already
    Have the face?

  9. So, we learn that we have to rely on privacy by encryption. We should not hope that some company will keep a “direct message”, “private chat” or “personal email” private unless it is enforced by encryption.
    However, still it’s hard to keep private to whom you send encrypted information.

  10. Pingback: Anonymous
  11. I think you’re right about those ‘discrete methods’.

    I would guess they’re trying to put together a scaffold out of pieces that are legally permitted in a US Court.

  12. Ook een goede opmerking: misschien hebben ze alle gegevens al. Maar is dit nodig om ze ook echt in de rechtbank te kunnen gebruiken!!

  13. You’re inspiring me to set up my own mail server, though don’t you think digital privacy is an illusion?

    I agree the only real surprise here is that prosecutors think Twitter has much to offer them (assuming this is a ‘fishing expedition’ in the Manning case).

    They probably would have gotten better information by the front door, i.e., contacting you directly.

  14. Congratulations on getting a formal certification in successful Hacktivism! 🙂
    It pains me to see that DoJ of USA is so very slow in recognising real hacker talent officially. Now you join a group of select few global hackers.
    Calls for a small celebration. 😀
    Stay strong, May the Force be with you!

  15. Most of us have a small percentage of the info about this to make intelligent comments about the facts. I, myself do not apologize for my government, because if I was that concerned I would move somewhere else, not sit and bitch. My country has the same basic percentage of good and bad people as most countries…our government is always a work in progress, progress being the key word. I do notice the younger people do most of the posting on these blogs and when we are young and idealistic we are unable to really understand the depth of these things. I find it funny that some think the government should have just used “spy” techniques to get this info…it is a process and if it is legal it will happen.

  16. How funny that the American government spells your name wrong and therefor is unable to trace you. They are so desperate that they ask Twitter for your information. How bizarre. This only shows how technology disadvanced or should i say disabled they are. (If we were not already convinced about that bij them being able to displace so much ‘secret’ information. 🙂


  17. I hope to hell that you are in no way entertaining not getting the court order stopped. I would also be one of the people to donate to a defense fund to stop the DOJ from screaming about protecting rights on one hand, well systematically turning the world into a US police state.

  18. Now, the US have abandoned democracy ages ago and they haven proven that they can’t be trusted.

    But let’s neglect that for a moment.

    The DOJ has an investigation running and decides that the requested information is required for that investigation.

    An independent judge legitimates the request.

    One could state that a correct procedure is followed.

    So where’s the flaw in the system, and what needs to be changed?

  19. If they misspelled your name, you can object (via Twitter, of course), and the charges will probably get dropped on a technicality or you can claim your identity is mistaken for somebody else’s.

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