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Should social networks release data?

15:27 UK time, Saturday, 8 January 2011

The US government has subpoenaed the social networking site Twitter for personal details of people connected to Wikileaks, court documents show. Should social networks ever disclose such information to governments?

The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones says this leaves Wikileaks in a difficult position.

Twitter has been keen to stress that it complies with local laws, says Mr Cellan-Jones, but it has also been eager to promote Twitter's role as "a forum for free expression" in countries like Iran.

Our correspondent asks: "If confidential details of overseas Twitter users are disclosed to the US authorities, how keen will an international audience be to trust this or other American social networks in future?"

Should social networks give up data to help in legal proceedings? Or is it more important for personal details to remain confidential? Will this damage users' trust in social networks?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comment.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    It would depend on the T&Cs agreed to by the individual.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well watdeyerno? Twitter may have to disclose information which its originators and its members probably thought was strictly confidential? Doesn't this go to prove how gullible people can be when using social networks?

  • Comment number 3.

    Freedom of data is only allowed when it suits those in power.
    The land of the free is only free if you agree.
    Uncle Sam is actually Big Brother Sam.

  • Comment number 4.

    Ah the US Government, the bastion of the free world... but only when it suits their agenda.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well it should go without saying: if you want to keep your personal information private, don't post it on on the internet.

  • Comment number 6.

    In a court case, would it not be open to any party to request these details if it assisted their case, and they could show good reason as to why it would?

  • Comment number 7.

    Funny isn't it? Freedom of expression, human rights, tolerance, democracy are all held up as something worth striving for (no, I don't believe in fairies either but I'm cynical). The moment we arrive at a technological position to communicate with each other across the world governments insist on being informed who is saying what about what.


    The lesson from history is that it won't work and the next step the US government will pay people to dob their friends into them. The step after that will be paying people in government to spy on its own people but by then the social networks will be silent.


    It would be better all round if the US government just looked to itself and its infrastructure and ask where the leaks are coming from and why would disaffected people want to leak stuff in the first place.

    Or perhaps strive harder to be more open to itself and accountable to its people.

  • Comment number 8.

    Yes, but where do we get the impression, these sites are secure anyway? in this case with the USA, we have a country that is being open and upfront, but would we know if it was all done by same access as Wikileaks. After that info shows most info is available without much technology to look beneath surfaces. But that way it would not be capable for other legal ramifications.

    History suggests spying by any means is and has been a very lucrative buisness. Unfortunatly we often are not well prepaired for the truth, or close our eyes to the basic fact.

  • Comment number 9.

    As far as i can see they want the information of about 5 people, one being an Icelandic MP but it`s the amount of information wanted that poses a question mark. The information sought includes mailing addresses and billing information, connection records and session times, IP addresses used to access Twitter, email accounts, as well as the "means and source of payment". Not only that but: The San Francisco-based website was given three days to respond was also told not to disclose that it had been served the subpoena, or the existence of the investigation. That last paragraph is the most worrying.

  • Comment number 10.

    This information should not devulged. Especaily, to the US government.
    Wikileaks has done the world a great service.
    Sec. of State Clinton proclaimed their releases "An attack on the world!" Her 'world', not mine.
    It is high-time that the ruling elite stop playing their double-dealing "Great Game", solely for their pleasure & profit.

  • Comment number 11.

    9. At 4:19pm on 08 Jan 2011, corncobuk wrote:
    The San Francisco-based website was given three days to respond was also told not to disclose that it had been served the subpoena, or the existence of the investigation.

    ========================================


    To prevent further data from being destroyed, perhaps?

  • Comment number 12.

    When will we as individuals realize that we are the society we complain about but don't act on it 'en masse"?
    I don't think that the government should interfere with our right to information.
    Especially when it is embarrassing more than anything else to them.
    We are opening the door to more restriction to our "freedom"of right to free speech.
    What will be next?

  • Comment number 13.

    Maybe Twitter should just leak the information requested.

  • Comment number 14.

    Like rats deserting a sinking ship, if the site does fold to the government they drown.

  • Comment number 15.

    No!

  • Comment number 16.

    11. At 4:26pm on 08 Jan 2011, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    9. At 4:19pm on 08 Jan 2011, corncobuk wrote:
    The San Francisco-based website was given three days to respond was also told not to disclose that it had been served the subpoena, or the existence of the investigation.

    ========================================


    To prevent further data from being destroyed, perhaps?


    ------------------------------------------

    Quite possibly and yet here it is in the public domain. Now that is irony.

  • Comment number 17.

    This subpoena is a massive threat to freedom of interaction and freedom of speech.
    If this goes ahead we will all know that the US Government are capable of acting like the Gestapo, Stazi and KGB.
    Millions could be found guilty by association.

  • Comment number 18.

    The only safe assumption is that social networks will sell any and all data in their posession.

    If you work on that basis and dont give them anything you wont be disappointed.

    The only surprising thing about this story is that Twitter didnt offer to sell the info to the US Secret Services.

    Alternatively - maybe they did and the US Gov did not want to pay.

  • Comment number 19.

    Twitter won't have a lot of choice in giving up any data. They are an American company and as such they are subject to the American Patriot Act.

    At the end of the day, what this really all boils down to is the yanks are desperate to find something that they can pin on Assange or anyone else associated with Wikileaks and get them extradited to the US to stand trial for telling the world all about America's true colours.

    Why do they want telephone numbers and payment details, etc, from Twitter? Why not just read the tweets? But I guess reading tweets doesn't really find ways to put pressure on payment gateway providers or phone companies and the like in order to destroy any chance of Wikileaks personnel ever getting internet access again and as such, effectively silenced so the American government can carry on their normal business as usual without fear of the world finding out.

    Anyway, if people haven't learnt by now that they shouldn't put their trust in American social network sites then they get all they deserve. Though I expect there will be a lot of people deleting their accounts and going elsewhere after the obvious outcome of this, the problem is there are still too many people who just don't care enough about their privacy.

  • Comment number 20.

    SO MUCH FOR THE LAND OF THE FREE. Just goes to show that freedom of speech is only OK in the USA if the government agree with it.

  • Comment number 21.

    If our data is kept with some governments then why not with the US .


    Let release all data to the US and Worldwide.


    Social networks do release some data to google So I think it's all the same .

  • Comment number 22.

    This story is more than a little ironic.

    Do people think any other country wouldn't release it?

    Just because they don't tell you about it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

    It is MUCH easier for the government to get personal information from internet companies in the UK.

  • Comment number 23.

    As the CIA rules in the USA are elections in the USA irrelevant?

  • Comment number 24.

    Well, duh, its a 'social' network init, and as all good americans know socialism is evil. Its also reasonable to asume that the government will always be your 'friend'.

  • Comment number 25.

    `Should social networks ever disclose such information to governments?`

    as if there is any privacy? please dont make things more confusing.

  • Comment number 26.

    Privacy must always be protected, even that of people who use so-called 'social networks'.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Freedom of speech does not mean that you can break the law, The person who leaked the documents has committed a crime and it is the right of the prosecution to gather the evidence, it is not a case they should fold, they have a legal duty to give up the information, unless they can prove there is no evidence to be had.

    On a slightly different note, what would you have done if wiki leaks had leaked your personal data, such as credit card number, security number, the lot? What would you have done? This is what could happen if an organisation believes that no data is untouchable.

  • Comment number 29.

    Every time I think I could not be more ashamed of my country (eg. the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), something new comes along.

  • Comment number 30.

    Should social networks give up data to help in legal proceedings? Or is it more important for personal details to remain confidential? Will this damage users' trust in social networks?

    Well considering the amount of personal information that a lot of users post, it would be hypocritical of them to complain about that info being passed onto the Authorities. As for trust - I don't think there's much trust on social networks anyway. Anyone with anything to hide should know to avoid them like the plague!

  • Comment number 31.

    Once they have the information, what do they plan on using it for?

    I haven't even heard which laws wikileaks has supposedly violated.
    They get labeled as treasonous but they aren't even American.
    They didn't steal the information themselves, they were given it.

    I think this reveals the fascist nature that the USA has developed.

  • Comment number 32.

    10. At 4:25pm on 08 Jan 2011, Jarlsbane wrote:
    This information should not devulged. Especaily, to the US government.
    Wikileaks has done the world a great service.
    Sec. of State Clinton proclaimed their releases "An attack on the world!" Her 'world', not mine.
    It is high-time that the ruling elite stop playing their double-dealing "Great Game", solely for their pleasure & profit.
    -------------------------------------------

    The thing is Jarlsbane is that the US government has to conform with US law and is answerable in the end to the people of the United States. Whistleblowers in the US still must work within the laws of the US. Judges in the US are responsible for upholding that law, right up to the Supreme Court Justices. Read about some of the legal processes involved with the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. A media service in the US can appeal a supoena or an injunction, and a judge can decide whether it is in the national interest for the truth to be revealed (as was the case in the Pentagon Papers). This means that the truth can be investigated responsibly and where it is in the interests of the people of a nation to have the information in the public domain. The problem with WikiLeaks is that it is answerable to nobody, no law, no judiciary and not even the people. With information comes responsibility and WikiLeaks is responsible to nobody. WikiLeaks has set back legitimate investigative journalism and legitimate whistleblowing a long way.

  • Comment number 33.

    No. They should lie and say that they destroyed the files as they were no longer needed and so were disposed of in accordance with data protection laws. Look what Wikileaks has revealed - much of it is valuable information, including video coverage of war crimes committed by US forces and yet nobody is prosecuted or investigated, and yet their justification for the war was allegedly to prevent war crimes. The World is sick and weary of these double-standards. If the US government wins then we are all in grave peril, for where will it stop? Will it stop with all news outlets being under total government control? remember Wikileaks is simply a news outlet, it publishes leaked documents but does not actually leak them. Governments already have more than enough control over mainstream media, which is why it takes these freebooters like Wikileaks to give us real news. I am sick of the authoritarian fanaticism of the US and EU governments. They should be more wary of these endless lies and deceit, for everytime they lie, they murder a part of the World.

  • Comment number 34.

    BBC: 'The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones says this leaves Wikileaks in a difficult position.'
    _______________________________________________

    Dear BBC, please read your own articles!
    Thanks to Rory Cellan-Jones for pointing out the fact that this leaves TWITTER (NOT Wikileaks) in a difficult position.

    However, there is another irony in this... aren't Wikileaks (AND the USA)supposed to be championing transparency? The big difference of course is that the USA military's security failed itself, whereas the Twitter is being FORCED (by the same USA administration) to break it's own principles.

    There's an interesting moral lesson for the USA here.
    Will they learn it? No: they don't want to and don't understand morality anyway... just like all governments.




  • Comment number 35.

    In the case of crimes such as murder etc yes.In this case no as no crime has been committed by the wikileaks team.

  • Comment number 36.

    Any organisation should only release information about its members or customers with their consent.

    The sole exception is when a legitimate court order requires such disclosure, which order has to beobtained openly and sunject to challenge by any interested party (the organisation or any individual concerned). A clear need to know has to be established by whoever is requesting the information, that need being based on evidence that wrong-doing has taken place. 'Fishing trips' are not legitimate reasons for making such a request, and granting access under such circumstances only brings discredit on any judge gullible enough to issue the order.

    I would also expect to see very detailed listings of what precisely is to be disclosed. Why each individual named is involved in the inquiry and what precisely needs to be known about them and why.

    For example, in the case under consideration, asking for contact details for named 'twitterers' might be reasonable if the authorities wish to speak with them, and can show just cause for why each individual merits attention... but where is the relevance of asking what method they use to pay their subscription? And as for asking for a complete listing of 'tweets' named individuals has made - are they so inept that they don't know how to follow through to obtain them for themselves?

    Whilst it is possible to see where there may be cases that a 'social network' or indeed any organisation might be justified in releasing confidential information, none has been demonstrated here and the request ought to have been thrown out of court.

  • Comment number 37.

    Perhaps the US government should start guarding it's secrets more closely. Perhaps they should have learned by now that they shouldn't document every damn thing. They are still trying to extradite Gary McKinnon to the US on some trumped-up charge. Why don't they take a clue and make their systems more secure, and their process of granting secret clearances more stringent if they feel their secrets are so important. It's a new age, and the US needs to become more agile in keeping up with the sharing of information.
    Wikileaks has done the world a great service. It's time diplomacy and politics existed outside of the areas of lying, disinformation, cheating, and hypocrisy (I can dream can't I?). And if you value your own privacy, then don't be stupid enough to sign up with an online social site. It's all so trite anyways. The meaning of the word "friend" has become so diluted.
    Oh, and as a sidenote, "Social Network" is up for an Oscar? Puh-lease!

  • Comment number 38.

    I will go to put my data now .

  • Comment number 39.

    It should only be allowed if the law applied in both directions; governments should be forced to reveal facts that affect the citizens of that country.
    Otherwise, it would be like nazi Germany, with its massive dossiers on ordinary people. Now, we wouldn't want that, would we?

  • Comment number 40.

    There is also a huge dollop of irony in seeing some posters here who support Wikileaks leaking US governmental information, even that which is clearly personal and not in anybody's interest to see, now arguing that information that Twitter holds should be kept under lock and key and not given to the US government. I have a better idea. How about Wikileaks posts all of the information they want from Twitter on their website? Simples.

  • Comment number 41.

    In this case, yes - Wikileaks needs to be brought down... Assange is a dangerous, self-opinionated, attention seeking man who is doing serious damage to the security of all free countries and the sooner he is locked up the better.

  • Comment number 42.

    I honestly wonder whether the US government knows quite what they are up against. It seems to me that the US is getting a royal PR pasting - everything they are doing makes me shudder - and this is the supposed progressive lot? What a sorry state the world is in when their supposed progressive, liberal self is so frighteningly hypocritical, corrupt, and worst of all unabashed to show itself so.

    Whether people like Julian Assange as a person or not - and there is a plenitude of reasons why people may find him aggravating - most cannot help but feel that there is a severe miscarriage of justice going on already. Very few believe much of the supposed sex case, and fewer still see any reality behind the supposed 'espionage'.

    The United States government is wrong to demand this - as it has been wrong to demand what it has from Paypal, Amazon, Facebook, Mastercard etc. IT is the big kid crying because it suddenly realises that the little people have some power. This fight is undoubtedly the most pivotal political time of my generation - it is a very serious question about how thin our 'human rights' really are - and how morally bankrupt our politicians truly are.

    What I'd really like to see is a political heavyweight standing up for right in this farce.

  • Comment number 43.

    I guess Wikileaks doesn't like their private data being exposed publicly... oh the irony... LOL

  • Comment number 44.

    #4 piggyback "The US are Big Brother"

    Echo that, piggyback. Why doesn't the US Government like people talking about it. I thought that was what the whole Election jamboree was about.

  • Comment number 45.

    The people at Wikileaks are pretty smart. I fully expect that they will have posted anonymously using IP obfuscation and so forth. It will not be possible to trace them. Big Brother Sam is on a hide into nothing.

  • Comment number 46.

    Of course, if they did do the dirty, anyone with any sense will stop using Twitter forthwith, and Twitter will tweet no more!

  • Comment number 47.

    40. At 5:26pm on 08 Jan 2011, suchan104 wrote:

    There is also a huge dollop of irony in seeing some posters here who support Wikileaks leaking US governmental information, even that which is clearly personal and not in anybody's interest to see, now arguing that information that Twitter holds should be kept under lock and key and not given to the US government. I have a better idea. How about Wikileaks posts all of the information they want from Twitter on their website? Simples.


    ------------------------------------

    Leaking a government's underhand tactics is in the public interest.
    People have a right to know what their government is doing in their name.

    Leaking personal information for a government to hide it's underhand tactics is not in the public interest.
    Governments do not have a right to track, monitor, spy on its citizens and that have never stepped foot in their country.


    Is that too hard for you to understand?

  • Comment number 48.

    Wikileak defenders you can't have it both ways.

    If you support Assange right to give out information that he has no rright to, than the U.S has the same right to twitter accounts.

  • Comment number 49.

    Bad day for twitter release the data and face backlash from users or don't release and face wraith of US government.

  • Comment number 50.

    Tell America to get stuffed, the world is sick of their bully boy attitude,If they cant look after their secrets tough, if they get the chance to extradite citizens of other country they will, and no one is guaranteed a fair trial from a country that does not believe in human rights only when it suits them.

  • Comment number 51.

    The usa is going after wikileaks via twitter.All they have done is open a goverment`s 30 year box early.I`ve seen pictures of a chinese stealth plane that looks similar to usa built fighter and a usa politician being interviewed on tv telling the world the chinese have copies of all americas nuclear missile plans.
    Security in the usa is in crisis and they look stupid going after the press and the extradition of people suffering from autism.All goverments need closed systems not microsoft.If its on microsoft then the goverment deserves all the leaking of information that is being brought down on themselves.

  • Comment number 52.

    US and those Civil Rights...
    A joke.
    This "age of information" is a one way street.
    And they dare to paint it rosy.
    I feel sick.
    My fault of course...

  • Comment number 53.

    Serves the fools right for using Twitter in the first place - or at least - their stupidness in using their real names/identity. The whole thing sounds ludricous anyway. I have my suspicions and theories as to what WikiLeaks actually is.

    The whole thing stinks anyway - I don't really trust much of what we are fed by the media.

  • Comment number 54.

    LOL

    Freedom is basically non existant.

    It is controlled by those who hold power/sway and weapons.

    ANY part of any individuals "feedom" can be interupted or cast aside by using various clauses which are legalitys set out & decided upon by governments & security services which operate with government consent and direction.

    These freedoms can be so quickly taken away, especially in UK with powers to restrict & control peoples lives, movement and ability to even spend money, as with CONTROL ORDERS.

    How do you think they catch many peadophiles & investigate terrorist plots. USA is NOT the only country to sift through billions of words each day with advanced software.
    Internet activity leaves a trail like a snail.

    If you want something private, do NOT display real name or even provide correct information.

    If governments can so simply get away with providing false & misleading information whether regarding statistics/policys or weapons of mass destruction, then rightfully, so can anyone.

    I dont go on twitter or any of these sights, you basically surrender access to your personal details/information to any takers.

    Every connection you make with someone else is recorded, whether mobile phone or internet, thats fine as long as your government or other powerful group doesnt abuse it.

    Can you imagine the people who would have been so simply and easily rounded up by Hitlers henchmen or Stalin & the KGB (probably still are in Russia) had such information been available to them.

    There are MORE countrys in the world who use such information in a totalitarian way than not.

    Nothing is forever, hence, if you believe that the west will always remain more open and free, then you have no/little regard for history, or what our species is capable of when events present themselves.

    Maybe the surge against communists or people who just had a chat with them in USA in 1950s etc couldnt happen again, LOL. Believe what you will, at your OWN peril.

    Maybe politicians CAN be totally trusted, including pre-election promises and propaganda information regarding policys they implement or plan to implement. Maybe statistics can be totally believed & trusted.

    Maybe, you're just a fool to yourself!

  • Comment number 55.

    When I was at work I wrote file notes, reports, emails etc in the knowledge that they would be open to scrutiny in the event of a request for a review, or a legal challenge - a common occurence in my work! Everything was therefore kept factual and objective.

    I am equally circumspect about anything I do on the internet as I know that it is not secure. Even though I am highly unlikely to do anything remotely 'dodgy' I prefer to keep my personal information private.

  • Comment number 56.

    Barack Obama is proving to be just as much of an international bully as his predecessor.

    Lay off Twitter users, America !

  • Comment number 57.

    I have always been a trifle suspicious of social networking sites and their actual motives. But since they promise a certain degree of privacy to their users, it would be absolutely wrong of them to release data to the US government. It also strikes me as absolutely ironic that by asking Twitter to release information on people connected to Julian Assange, the US government is doing exactly what they are accusing Julian of!

  • Comment number 58.

    You see this is why I never give my real details on-line.

    The whole morality and impact of wiki-leaks aside (personally i think we're all to close to judge whether its harmless or incredibly dangerous just yet) this request by the US government hints that at some point in the future we may all be held accountable for our online activities.

    Even if those activities were neither unlawful or even controversial at the time they occurred.

    Scary stuff.

  • Comment number 59.

    I'm not connected to Wikileaks, however from a freedom of speech standpoint, the US government's actions are obviously a heavy-handed attempt to stifle criticism and control the flow of information.

    The Obama administration is looking more and more like the one before it, right down to the people who were responsible for the near global economic collapse.

    The media should be all over this, yet once again most are asleep on the job.

  • Comment number 60.

    Just goes to show, as several have pointed out here, that if you go on a social network and bare your soul you may get caught in the net of sharks. Freedom, to some, is just a word.

  • Comment number 61.

    ok. you made it. I am confused. if they release the personal data, will I have to give up my fantasies? You know I have some personalities that I dont want to give up. They are cool but they may scare some. I dont wanna scare people neither I want to give them up.

  • Comment number 62.

    No, Twitter should not give up the info.

    However it probably will, because it's based in America and life would be made very difficult for it if it doesn't co-operate.

    Perhaps social networking companies should relocate their servers to somewhere like Switzerland?

  • Comment number 63.

    I think that if these US based sights such as Twitter and Facebook sites are no longer secure, we should look for alternatives based outside the US.

    Long live Wikileaks, real freedom.

    The US spends all it efforts bullying everyone it can, it certainly has nothing positive to offer the world. Rubbish food, rubbish drinks, rubbish cars, rubbish and BS.

    They are the real danger.

  • Comment number 64.

    Freedom?
    So the happiness is not to be an American...

  • Comment number 65.

    "Why do gulity governments' and people who have power or are mega rich,or famous use freedom of information acts, to hide from the press and media? So they are above the law,??? But they can spy on the people who vote for them? What has happen in The U.S.A. and the U.K. to our basic freedom????? This is becoming old Russian country???

  • Comment number 66.

    oh, this was only for wikileaks? well in that case I dont know who cares for the personal data of those lame actors.

    Why nobody is confused? I will stop playing if you get me confused all the time.

  • Comment number 67.

    Absolutely no, this will set a precident not just for this case, but for the whole way governments will treat organisations and people on the internet. The American government are really shooting themselves in the foot with thia!!

  • Comment number 68.

    It is quite ironic,isnt it, that Wikileak doesnt want its own "confidential" information exposed... ???

  • Comment number 69.

    With an American organiser of the "networking" conference @ the UK Trade Union Congress venue today how sure are we that the US government is not the ultimate host of the meeting?

  • Comment number 70.


    I am no more happy about this inspection than I would be if my letters were being physically steamed-open by the same authorities.
    We have surely reached the state of understanding where we should be demanding our right to privacy.
    NO authority, no agency, no government, NOBODY has the right to go through my private communications without first requesting access - and then in only a strictly restricted manner.
    New legislation is needed across the world to limit the power of the state and to protect the rights of the individual.

  • Comment number 71.

    47. At 5:39pm on 08 Jan 2011, Rob wrote:
    40. At 5:26pm on 08 Jan 2011, suchan104 wrote:

    There is also a huge dollop of irony in seeing some posters here who support Wikileaks leaking US governmental information, even that which is clearly personal and not in anybody's interest to see, now arguing that information that Twitter holds should be kept under lock and key and not given to the US government. I have a better idea. How about Wikileaks posts all of the information they want from Twitter on their website? Simples.


    ------------------------------------

    Leaking a government's underhand tactics is in the public interest.
    People have a right to know what their government is doing in their name.

    Leaking personal information for a government to hide it's underhand tactics is not in the public interest.
    Governments do not have a right to track, monitor, spy on its citizens and that have never stepped foot in their country.


    Is that too hard for you to understand?
    ----------------------------------
    Rob:

    1. It is up to US investigative journalism and the US people to expose any misbehaviour on the part of their government, which can be done within the laws of the US. The US has a free press, unlike many other parts of the world, and exposure of government misbehaviour has been done many times before by US investigative journalists. What the people have a "right" to know under the laws governing the freedom of information in the US can be judged by judges.

    2. The US government has applied, through the courts for access to the information Twitter holds as part of a criminal investigation. The judge must decide whether this is real or not and, as in this case, he denied the government's request that Twitter should not make the request public.

    3. Twitter can appeal this subpoena, as can those individuals whose information has been requested.

    4. All of this process takes place with the democratic checks and balances provided by the Constitution and laws of the US and implemented by its judiciary.

    Wikileaks is answerable to which democratic checks and balances exactly? How do they decide what people have a right to know?

    Is that too hard for you to understand?

  • Comment number 72.

    NO NO NO. Not ever. This is an abuse of power whereby the state seeks autonomy.

    So much for the home of the free and brave. USA, hang your head in shame

  • Comment number 73.

    Why not ? If it is hiding criminal activity then it's fair game, anyone dumb enough to stick their life up for public consumption has to expect it to be open to anybody who feels inclined to look.

  • Comment number 74.

    Well - we may be closer to this scenario in the UK than most people realise.

    The legislation that the Labour party wanted to bring in - which the Lib Dems and, I believe, the Tories said they didn't want - is still on the cards. That legislation would make this kind of action commonplace.

  • Comment number 75.

    Funny how this is an open forum, yet the comments on Jack Straws views are closely edited.
    BBC News at its unbiased best yet again?.

  • Comment number 76.

    USa has turned to crap following 'I'm not a crook' was in office. All institutions are perverted. But NO, govt must not extract personal info from the net.
    ---
    When is the EU going to prosecute Wall-street! Ban all the Bush admin from traveling in EU or issue subpoenas for them for unilateral war (GB and USa same entity as when their oil industries colluded to overthrow Iranian govt) vs Iraq under false pretenses. Bush should have been impeached and his admin. jailed in 2006 to prevent such manipulations from again happening. So where does O'bama admin get off? Oh, it is run by DoD and Wallst too...

  • Comment number 77.

    Assanges of the world steal data. The governments of the world subpoena data. That is how it works and it is fair.

  • Comment number 78.

    I cannot see why the USA feel they have right to be given confidential information. It is bad enough that you have to fill in copious forms and go through their security at US airports and now they seem to want the right to 'nosy' through foreign sites. Who do they think they are? There was an outcry when China denied access to their citizens of overseas websites and this was seen as an abuse of civil freedoms. Surely the same applies in this instance.

    It is bad enough the US authorities have been slowly denying civil liberties to their own citizens now these same authorities wish to inflict these same denials overseas. What has happened to the thinking in the 'land of the free'? Or maybe this was an illusion!

    If the US authorities are so worried about their security maybe they should look within their own organisations rather than divert attention away to outside forces.

  • Comment number 79.

    Social network?
    Serving the Big Brother?
    Mr. Orwell, wake up please...

  • Comment number 80.

    If I was Twitter, I'd just tell the US government to open an account and follow all the tweeters they wanted! (And I'm not kidding - it's like them requesting last weeks news from CNN.)

  • Comment number 81.

    This request from the USA is a red herring of course, yet another way to cover up the fact that they already have all the information they need on individuals companies and governments worldwide .. What do you think those huge globes are in Flyingdales Yorkshire? They are the ears of America listening in on every conversation in Europe .. Another nail in the coffin of our Freedom along with all other freedoms given away to the USA by traitors Blair Blunkett and Reid and other lickspittals of the criminally stupid and insane Labour Government who spent all their time sucking up to a bunch of psychopaths across the Atlantic....
    Give 'em sweet Fanny Adams and tell 'em to get their troops out of our country...
    Thank God for Wikileaks

  • Comment number 82.

    I agree that what is fair for Wikileaks and Julian Assange is fair for the US Government, but it requires the US Government to use its intelligence network. Of course trying to bully people through legal process is the only alternative when no one wants to leak you anything beacuse they don't fancy disappearing mysteriously or facing trumped up legal charges because of something someone has found from your past. On the other hand we could say the US Government has NO intelligence.

    So there is no parallel between Wikileaks and what the US Government is doing. It is as different as a whistleblower doing what comes naturally on one hand and making sure a whistleblower doesn't have a mouth in which to place the whistle on the other.

  • Comment number 83.

    One day the citizens of the USA may wake up realizing that their dream time is over.

  • Comment number 84.

    Would any of you be complaining if the US justice department was requesting information for a case against a sex offender? or terrorist? or drug smuggler?

    The internet is free, in that you have the freedom not to post personal information. All this attention over the release of a few bytes of info, while a young kid is about to be held for up to 52 years over this case!

  • Comment number 85.

    The only thing being hurt by this is the American government!! Wikileaks embarrassed them and they are hell bent (like a schoolchild) to destroy them at WHATEVER cost. Thus we have a "rape" case against the head of the site (with America sending out messages to the rest of the world that he is wanted ar ALL costs) and now they want to meddle with a social networking site by throwing their weight around. If any OTHER country had notified the San Francisco-based website and was given three days to respond and also told not to disclose that it had been served the subpoena, or the existence of the investigation, the Americans would be screaming at the top of their lungs.

  • Comment number 86.

    "If confidential details of overseas Twitter users are disclosed to the US authorities, how keen will an international audience be to trust this or other American social networks in future?"

    It's not just social networks that give out what I would regard as confidential information. If you book flights on a travel site (Expedia.co.uk for example), from outside the UK, and in a country with no Expedia country specific site, you are redirected to www.expedia.com with then requires you to provide details of your flights to the Department of Homeland Security, even if your flight does NOT involve a flight through US territory (e.g. wholly within Europe). Complaining about it falls on deaf ears. The robots in the Expedia call centre are incapable of providing a rational explanation outside the scripts they use. It seems to me that the US government is collecting information it should not need. Why should passenger data, wholly within Europe, between European sovereign nations, on European airlines, be collected by the US government?

  • Comment number 87.

    Who cares?

  • Comment number 88.

    Absolutely! Evil and stupidity should not be promoted; unfortunately, that what our lives are built on these days!

  • Comment number 89.

    First, it is naive to assume that we can hide anything from anyone including the US government, especially if we use modern technology, however, it is the hypocrisy of what the US is doing that is troubling. We loudly defend any journalist who is being persecuted for printing the 'truth' when it is a journalist in foreign countries such as China, Russia etc., but when it happens to us, we scream treason. To date Wikileaks has not released anything that has irreparably harmed the US, just embarrassed us. It has been predicted by astrologers, psychics etc for several years, that at this time, secrets will be revealed and hidden information will come to light. I thank Wikileaks for doing what it did. Truth will out.

  • Comment number 90.

    If Wikileak thinks any data should be publish! Why don't wikileaks leaks these data? and so leaking these data is freedom of speech too!

  • Comment number 91.

    This just goes to show how DESPARATE the Yank government is, to silence those who want to expose its nasty side!

    At long last the rest of the world is seeing the "good ol' boy with mom & apple pie" image gradually turning into one more akin to Freddy Kruger!

  • Comment number 92.

    We always seem to treat the Internet as a special case. But surely the police can get information about us in any criminal investigation from the physical places we visit such as shops, libraries and restaurants. Just because the Internet is electronic and virtual why should there be a different set of rules that apply to it ?
    If this investigation is justified as a criminal one then is not an issue for those asked to comply with the law and give up the information, it is a case for the jury to decide in a courtroom. If the case was not legal in the first place then it is also up to the lawyers to determine that.
    I have never been so naive as to think the information I lodge with on-line organizations is private. Perhaps the real problem here is not that the legal authorities are able to get hold of the data, but rather that individuals were foolish enough in the first place to believe it would ever be private and secure from them.
    The myth of the Internet being free, secure and open is the product of some hippy dream that somehow made it all the way through to the 21st century. Information that is transmitted and stored by electronic means can be intercepted and/or recovered by Governments, police forces, News of the World reporters and so on. We need to accept this rather than hold on to the unrealistic view that the Internet is somehow sacred and therefore secure.

  • Comment number 93.

    Are we so naive as to consider that our Governments in the civilized west are any less self serving than those that we consider more oppressive? We have our illusion that we are 'free' in the same way the Chinese have their illusion of freedom. We are just slaves on long leads given only such freedom as the state decrees and receiving only such information as the state deems fit. The USA is paranoid and repressive and taken to delusions that the American way is best for the world. It got caught with its dirty washing hanging out and is now having a hissy fit. No twitter should do what is right not what bully boy uncle sam demands. Freedom isn't free, you have to fight for it.

  • Comment number 94.

    If Twitter executives cave in under pressure from the US court authorities and give them information which should be protected under law in any democratic country, shame on them.
    They would be only a little better than the US owned complicit corporations which so far have leapt to shut down wikileaks operations in their systems.
    This would sound the death knell of social networks that are U.S based, or owned in other countries too, who could trust them again?

    Social networks are not yet owned by the media barons which is why they are the only means left to get unbiased news to people who are sick of the politically biased mainstream news offerings.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hey SUCHAN104
    Wakey wakey mate.
    It is the USA that is doing precisely what you are accusing Wikileaks of doing.. The USA is answerable only to itself and to hell with the rest of the world including its own people.. Wikileaks is doing all of us a big big favour and hopefully it is the beginning of the end of creepy sneaky lying cheating murdering governments..

  • Comment number 96.

    The USA should not be able to force companies to give up personal and private information. In the case of murder and terrorist action a court ruling could be acquired for each person so possibly the US Gov should start with one case, see if in infringes the Privacy Laws as the Twitterers are not criminals as no one has been charged with any crime. Assange it has been talked about but only once they are actually charged could they go after him.
    Information is private unless some hackers dump names, as they did with the BNP and Mastercard etc. The cables were private until dumped into the public domain. The person dumping them is possibly to be seen as the criminal but now it is up to the US to ensure that cables are not easily available.

    Wikileaks is only one site that has come to the fore. If it closes where will the information going next? There are options out there folks. Freedom of speech, the people on Twitter who have a comment possibly need to be recognised by the Governments involved as exercising their rights. If you don't like what you hear then maybe your policies are wrong and you, the public servant, need to adjust your direction.

    The only way the US could stop anyone speaking, twittering, is to close down the internet. Sorry all you politicians this is not going to happen.

    One day we might see Tony Blair squirm and answer straight questions because information will come out one way or another. Are we the public wanting politicians to hide their lies to us or do we want to read the truth. Gaddafi read his write up and all it showed was the stupidity of the US ambassador and the double talk that goes on. Wikileaks did not break this relationship, the ambassador did by being such and a*se.

    OK court orders arrive at Twitter, Twitter gives in, Twitter goes down the pan as I for one will not use it again. Bye Bye Twitter no more money for you......

  • Comment number 97.

    I see the US Government is throwing its weight around again...surprise, surprise.

    The land of the free and the home of the brave (as long as people do as they're told!)



  • Comment number 98.

    If as has been requested Twitter do disclose this information, I suspect it will see a lot of people moving off Twitter.

    This will be damaging for all social network sites if they are located in the USA, simple answer, don't provide the service into the US, or if you do, then do not have the servers hosted there.

  • Comment number 99.

    The USA is turning into the 21st Century version of the evils that was Nazi Germany, it claims extra-territoriality when it suits the USA and rejects absloutely all other norms of the civilised world when it comes to allowing or enforcing the judgenments of other jurisddictions.

    NO WAY should the social neworks pander to the illegalities and intimidation and suppression and frepression of the Obama regime.

    The USA is a spent force economically - Japana and China and Korea are knocking spots off the USA in business and trade. Its time the American goc=vernment learned the harsh realities of being a country living on unsupportable credit, but in the meantime it will get more and more repressive and undemocratic.

  • Comment number 100.

    Some people would cut off their nose in spite of their face. In a sole effort to disgrace the US, Wikileaks is publicizing information that is stolen. This is just terribly wrong no matter how you look at it.


    Would you want someone hacking into your computer? Distributing your pictures? Copying your private information on Twitter? Are you crazy?

    It is just wrong.

 

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