Secret US Court Order demands email data for WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report tonight that Jacob Appelbaum, a hacker, security researcher, and human rights activist, is the subject of a secret court order demanding his email data for the last two years. Sonic.net, a small ISP, went to great trouble and expense to fight the order but lost. Google won't comment on whether it complied or resisted.

As previously noted on Boing Boing, Appelbaum has been subjected to harassment, detention, and interrogation at airports by US agencies during that time, also. Appelbaum has never been charged with a crime, nor has the government ever stated why he is under surveillance.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. government has obtained a controversial type of secret court order to force Google Inc. and small Internet provider Sonic.net Inc. to turn over information from the email accounts of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said the U.S. is pursuing an 'active criminal investigation' of WikiLeaks.

Sonic said it fought the government's order and lost, and was forced to turn over information. Challenging the order was "rather expensive, but we felt it was the right thing to do," said Sonic's chief executive, Dane Jasper. The government's request included the email addresses of people Mr. Appelbaum corresponded with the past two years, but not the full emails.

Both Google and Sonic pressed for the right to inform Mr. Appelbaum of the secret court orders, according to people familiar with the investigation. Google declined to comment. Mr. Appelbaum, 28 years old, hasn't been charged with wrongdoing.

Read the rest of the story at the WSJ.

The WSJ also has a profile on Sonic.net, the independent, California-based ISP that tried to fight the secret order, at great cost.

Security researcher Christopher Soghoian tweets, "Not only did Sonic.net fight the court order from DOJ, but it has now adopted a 2 week data retention policy for IP logs. Awesome."

And here is a WSJ story on one judge leading the fight against secret court orders.

AFP has a related item. Snip:

The revelation of a secret court order raises questions around US authorities' ability to obtain information on people's digital correspondence -- by email and cellphone -- and whether the law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, violates constitutional protections over search and seizure.


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