On the Twitter court order

Dear journalists,

Yet again I am being inundated with your e-mails, text messages, phone calls and unannounced house visits. (The latter is new, unwelcome and the fastest way to get a non-expiring entry on my media blacklist.)

I could easily spend all my time answering the same questions with the same answers instead of taking some time to think for myself. This is not your fault. I can see there’s a story here and you need to cover it. I just hope you’ll forgive me for writing down my thoughts just once on this blog. I realize you may “just have a few questions” or desperately need my voice or footage of my talking head, but I’ll most likely still point you to this text. It’s nothing personal.

What happened?

On December 14 of 2010, the US Department of Justice has had a court order issued to force Twitter to send them various bits of information regarding my Twitter account as well as of the twitter accounts of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Jacob Appelbaum. In my previous blog post, I have erroneously referred to this order as a subpoena, which it isn’t. I’m not a US lawyer, but some apparently profound thoughts about various aspects of this order can be found here.

I found out about the order because Twitter did the right thing and successfully fought for a second court order so they were able to tell us. The e-mail from twitter also says we have ten days to announce that we’re fighting this in court or otherwise they’ll give the DOJ the requested information.  I’ll write more about Twitter’s role soon.

Apparently someone thinks that whatever records Twitter has regarding my account are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation”. It is not clear from the documents that have presently been made public what my role in this apparent investigation is.

So what does Twitter have on me?

Basically my tweets, which are publicly accessible, and the IP-numbers I connected from. I don’t use Twitter all that much and for convenience my tweets are generally posted through a plugin on this blog. I have never sent or received private messages on twitter. In other words: what Twitter has on me is unspectacular.

This matter does beg the question who else has gotten such court orders and whether other parties have silently complied with such orders. Hello Facebook? Google?

Why did this happen?

I don’t know. But from the list of names we can speculate this has something to do with the release of the “Collateral Murder” video in april of 2010. That video, shot from a US helicopter over Baghdad, shows the shooting of a Reuters photographer and subsequently of the civilians that try to rescue him. I travelled to Iceland to help out with the preparations for disseminating this video. I feel, probably like most people that saw the video, that showing that video served the important purpose of shining light on the hidden realities of present-day war.

The entire process of releasing this video is ridiculously well-documented as Raffi Khatchadourian, a journalist for The New Yorker, was with us the whole time. I recommend his article for an in-depth look at what happened. For a broader look at my life over the past year or so, I recommend reading a keynote speech I delivered in Berlin a few weeks ago.

So what am I going to do now?

Being involved in a criminal investigation, and especially one which is likely to have huge political pressure behind it, is a very serious matter. So I am talking to lawyers, trying to better understand what is going on and I am weighing my options. Frequent readers of this blog will likely be the first to know if I have something new to say.

114 thoughts on “On the Twitter court order”

  1. all the best, rop. thanks for your commitment so far. i’ll keep the fingers crossed for you…

  2. One potential interesting part of this court order phrased as “all connection from and to the account” could imply that DoJ requests all names and IP-addresses of all people actually *reading* your tweets. That would be a bit more than just ‘unspectacular’?

  3. All the best Rop. The rest of the world knows that this case is an absolute farce.. Uncle Sam’s just got a bit of egg on his face and tophat I’m afraid. But you’re right, there’s an enormous amount of political pressure on the whole thing so take care ok.

  4. Good luck Rop.
    Sadly, I’d bet that this will not end in a win for either side. A slow legal battle which shrouds the underlying principles behind orwellian languague. The case will drag on, slowly diminishing. There will be no trial, no win or lose either way. I don’t think this will be won or lost.

    Sad, too sad.

  5. Heel veel Kracht Licht en Inzicht …toegewenst.

    Bidden en/of mediteren -hoe je ook noemen- wilt helpt en als velen dit met mij doen …alvast dank.

  6. Jemig, ik betrap mezelf erop niet eens hardop te durven schrijven wat ik ervan vind om niet ook de (amerikaanse) overheid achter me aan te krijgen. Laat ik subtiel zeggen dat ik je meer dan steun…

  7. Het ware gezicht van vrijheid van meningsuiting kom wel erg duidelijk aan het licht. Het is maar dat we het weten.
    Sterkte ben succes.

  8. Ongelofelijk, dat Telegraaf artikel.
    ‘Inlichtingenexpert Peter Siebelt’ weet je via de CCC zelfs aan de RAF te linken. Nog één stap en je was al een terrorist op de kleuterschool. Wie is die man? Disinformation at work. Meer nog dan alles wat Wikileaks onthuld heeft, geeft de tegenaanval aan in hoeverre macht corrumpteert.
    Eng, heel eng, maar grappig is het wel.

  9. American government is shooting itself in the foot. The only conclusion we can make from this is that we as Europeans are too dependant on american businesses. The only conclusion is that we need a European Google, a European Facebook and a European Twitter. (Or an Islandic one…that would be even better.)

  10. Got some impression that they want you for getting more ways to kill Wikileaks-support.
    That’s their way to fight Wiki-leaks (or J.A. and friends).
    Can be harshly if you think ‘weapon-industry’, kind of ‘call-of-duty’-paranoids..
    Deal: if they leave you at rest (including your friends) they might get a free view for your support to the (correct version of course of) US-men… or the contrary!
    (you need not be afraid of them anyway, it are human like you and me. (I hope so!)

  11. Altijd handig om te weten wie die linkse terreuractivisten ook alweer zijn.
    Sterkte met de gevolgen van uw eigen daden R.O.P.

  12. @Monique

    It’s not the messenger who kills the people..
    Vergeet niet dat al die overheden ons vertegenwoordigen (ipv andersom) en dus ook jouw naam onder alle oorlogsverklaringen staan.
    Alleen al om die reden is het niet meer dan wenselijk dat de overheid absolute openheid betracht.

  13. Veel mensen staan achter je. Openheid past bij een democratie. Jammer dat het toch maar weer verdedigd moet worden door individuen.

  14. Best Rop,
    Voor de lokale radio zender in Deventer wilde ik je graag persoonlijk een paar vragen stellen…

    Grapje. Sterkte met je verdediging in deze zaak!

  15. Rop, Zet ‘m op! De Telegraaf was niet alleen fout IN de oorlog, maar ook NA de oorlog. Het is goed dat er mensen zijn zoals Asange en jij, die de burger & surfer behoeden en op de hoogte brengen van wat er allemaal op internet niet deugt en wat er aan wordt onttrokken. En Amerika is sowieso geen ECHTE democratie, want niet iedereen daar heeft het recht om te stemmen.

  16. Good Luck!
    ook goed om je weer eens te realiseren dat er massa’s derde partijen zijn waar ‘een overheid’ informatie kan opvragen (twitter, faceboek, google ect.)

  17. Why are house visits when it’s a matter of respect where one takes the effort of actually talking to you in person? It is a clear indication that somebody finds you important enough to travel.

  18. Jouw twitter account zal inderdaad niet spannend zijn, maar wellicht wel ‘handig’ om andere data te vailideren.

    Ik hoop dat er met dit proces een duidelijk voorbeeld gesteld kan worden hoe onwenselijk dit is.


  19. And when in time will warcriminal G.W. Bush be brought to The Hague for his crimes against humanity? This warcriminal is still out there telling all he did was for the best.
    I just dont understand nobody in the world even dares to bring it in. His crimes can be compaired with people like Stalin, Hitler and Hussein they also commit their crimes for the good of their nation killing thousends of people just like G.W. also torturing people cause the information was vital for their army and safety of the people. Nothing changes, ordinairy people are treated as criminals for small resistense against these crimes and the people committing the crimes are celebrating and telling how good they were.

  20. Sterkte!Dat de VS druk kunnen uitoefenen en kunnen intimideren wil niet zeggen dat ze zullen zegevieren,het impliceert eerder het omgekeerde.
    Stuipen van een natie in verval.

  21. I wish you lots of wisdom.
    Though maybe not directly in your interest: let this case serve as a Waterloo for unjustifiable and hidden judicial practices.

  22. Oh joy, are the US anything better than China? These nitwits can’t even copy a name from an account correctly. These are the death throes of the generation that fears new media most.

  23. Ik heb het grootste respect voor wat je doet Rob. Laat je niet gek maken. Als je een rustig adres nodig hebt om uit de wind te zitten kan je bij mij terecht.

  24. Allemaal even ophouden met ‘links’ en ‘rechts’. Ik ben zelf overwegend rechts, maar dat neemt niet weg dat ik Gonggrijp en Assange ten volle steun. Journalistieke vrijheid is namelijk van LEVENSBELANG.

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