The US Department of Justice has subpoenaed from Twitter the private emails of former Wikileaks activist Birgitt Jonsdottir, now a member of Iceland’s parliament. She tweeted, “USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?”
If Twitter complies with this order without a legal battle (and Jonsdottir will wage her own), then in my view it should make us all rethink mortgaging our liberties to American social media, technology and finance companies that are lapdogs of the government. Apple deleted the Wikileaks app for iPhone and iPad even though reading leaked US government cables is not illegal. In fact, the Founding Generation intended that no American should ever need permission to read or write anything. Visa, Mastercard and Paypal have all blocked payments to Wikileaks even though the organization has not been proved to have done anything illegal.
Meanwhile, Bush administration officials, such as Dick Cheney, who ordered people tortured have not been in any way inconvenienced by Mssrs. Obama and Holder.
In any case, maybe we should all sign up for some social media based in Europe or in the global South (Orkut is now completely based in Brazil, though owned by Google), to stop the rush toward de facto Facebook- and Twitter- internet monopolies, which then are in turn tools of US government control, what with big corporations being overly cozy with Washington.
Maybe MP Jonsdottir can sponsor legislation allowing the setting up of Iceland-based social media that could not so easily be made to kowtow to government.
The back story here is that the DOJ has decided to attempt to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for conspiracy to commit espionage. In that connection, the DOJ wants to gather evidence that Assange was not a passive recipient of US government classified documents but rather actively recruited American officials with access to the material and urged them to commit a crime. They want to sniff through Jonsdottir’s private mail for such evidence. It is a fishing expedition and legally fishy in that regard. The over-all strategy is lame and almost certainly will fail, but it is being pursued by the Obama administration out of terror that further massive leaks will be made public. The point is to make an object lesson of Assange. In reality, Assange is no more culpable than the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde or Aftenpost. Newspapers get government officials to leak classified information all the time. But nothing is being done to the newspapers.