October 10, 2011
Court Order Forces Release Of WikiLeaks Supporter’s Email
The US government obtained a secret court order forcing Google Inc. and Internet provider Sonic.net Inc. to release data from email accounts of a WikiLeaks volunteer, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
WSJ, citing reviewed documents, said that Sonic.net was forced to turn over data from the email account of Jacob Appelbaum, which includes email addresses of people he had corresponded with over the past two years.
Sonic CEO Dane Jasper told WSJ that it fought the order legally and lost.
Appelbaum has not been charged with any criminal conduct as of yet, according to the WSJ, but both Google and Sonic had called for him to be informed of the court order that targeted him.
The Google order directed the search company to hand over IP addresses from which Appelbaum logged into through his Gmail account and the mail and IP addresses of the users with whom he communicated dating back to November 1, 2009.
WikiLeaks has been in the US government´s crosshairs for making public hundreds of thousands of secret files and diplomatic cables on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and releasing a trove of internal correspondence among US diplomats around the world.
The disclosure of secret court orders raises concerns about the US´s ability to obtain information on people´s digital correspondence and whether the law -- the Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- violates constitutional protections over search and seizure.
Micro-blogging site Twitter fought a similar court order to hand over details of the accounts of several WikiLeaks supporters earlier this year as part of an ongoing criminal investigation launched by the Department of Justice into the leaking of classified US documents. Twitter has yet to turn over any information, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Appelbaum, 28, is a developer for the Tor Project Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides free tools to help people maintain their anonymity online, according to the WSJ.
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