A Federal Judge in Virginia ruled Thursday that Twitter must turn over the IP addresses of three users possibly connected to WikiLeaks. The case has raised a number of Internet privacy and free speech issues after the Justice Department tried to get the information, which highlights a computer's location, without a search warrant. According to the New York Times report on the case, the government cited a law from 1994 to demand the information.

When Twitter was notified of the government's request for the information earlier this year it didn't immediately defend the privacy of its customers, but the microblogging company was applauded for notifying the three users rather than immediately handing over the information, allowing them a chance to respond in court.

According to the NYT, the three users — an American computer security expert, a Dutch citizen and a member of Iceland's parliament — argued, "their Internet protocol addresses should be considered private information and that the demand for information was too broad and unrelated to WikiLeaks. They also argued that the order suppressed their right to free speech."

The Federal Judge, on the other hand, ruled that the information was "material to establishing key facts" in the WikiLeaks information and that the users voluntarily handed over their IP addresses, along with any expectations of privacy, when they signed up for Twitter.

The judge also denied a request to unseal the Justice Department's reasons for seeking the account info. Internet privacy advocates claim that move sends a message that the government will have secret access to any data hosted in the United States.

Jacob Applebaum, the American under investigation later tweeted, "Today is one of those "losing faith in the justice system" kind of days."

Today is one of those "losing faith in the justice system" kind of days.Thu Nov 10 20:29:56 via web