The leaked subpoena sent to Twitter this month by the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office in Boston is causing some hoopla on the web and raising the issue of law enforcement’s access to online personal data.
On Dec. 14, the D.A.’s Office issued a subpoena to Twitter in order to access the account information of two users who tweeted a list of personal information they allegedly obtained by hacking into the Boston Police Patrolmens’ Association. The hackers stole identifying information and Tweeted it to followers. The subpoena requests “available subscriber information, for the account or accounts associated with the following information, including IP address logs for account creation.”
In the subpoena, assistant D.A. Benjamin A. Goldberger requests that the investigation be kept from the Twitter users as to not impede the ongoing probe. But the information was leaked. We reached out to Twitter for comment, but have yet to hear back.
On Dec. 23 one of the accounts under investigation, @p0isAn0N Tweeted, “Haha. Boston PD submitted to Twitter for my information. Lololol? For what? Posting info pulled from public domains? #comeatmebro.”
The D.A.’s office requested details of two Twitter users and also listed the name Guido Fawkes, which is the name but not handle listed for one of the accounts under investigation, as well as the hashtags #BostonPD and #d0xcak3.
One of the accounts being probed is listed in the subpoena as @OccupyBoston, however that account appears to be inactive. It’s likely they meant @Occupy_Boston, which Tweets about the occupy movement. Targeting this account has lead some to speculate that the police are monitoring the online activity of occupy protestors.
Twitter’s website contains an information section for law enforcement. It states that if a subpoena is issued for a user’s information, the company will inform that user before they hand the information to the authorities, unless it is prevented from doing so by court order or statute. According to its site, Twitter was following protocol by informing the user of the subpoena, and, perhaps later providing that user’s information to the Boston D.A. This isn’t the first time Twitter has been reluctant to hand-over user information to law enforcement.
It’s possible Twitter does host some personal information about the owners of the accounts who tweeted the hacked materials. At the very least, it might have IP addresses. However, Twitter doesn’t verify identities or email addresses of its users, so using Twitter for detective work might be more harmful than helpful to an investigation, especially if the subpoena is leaked. We contacted the Boston District Attorney’s Office and are waiting for a reply.
Do you think Twitter should surrender user information for hackers? Please tell us in the comments.
Image courtesy of Flickr, eldh
Via Mashable: http://www.mashable.com