The inexorable and execrable march of government intrusion into our privacy
On 11 March, according to the EFF
A federal magistrate judge in Virginia ruled today that the government can collect the private records of three Twitter users as part of its investigation related to WikiLeaks, and that those users and the public can be prevented from seeing some of the documents that the government submitted to the court to justify obtaining their records.
Firstly I find it deeply worrying that the government of the Land of the Free is able to conduct so much personal intrusion in secret. And secondly, I find it intensely arrogant that one country can demand the private information of a legally elected representative of the people of another nation (one of the three, Birgitta Jonsdottir, is an Icelandic parliamentarian).
“This ruling gives the government the ability to secretly amass private information related to individuals’ Internet communications. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the government should not be able to obtain this information in secret. That’s not how our system works,” said Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “If this ruling stands, our client may be prevented from challenging the government’s requests to other companies because she might never know if and how many other companies have been ordered to turn over information about her.”
Even more worrying, we might never have known about this had not Twitter specifically warned its users about what was happening. Had it been just Facebook, the government would more than likely have got its way in secret.
Bit by bit, democratic governments are reasserting the control over us that the internet briefly, all too briefly, loosened.