Google and Sonic.net have received a secret court order called 2703(d) which requires the two internet companies to turn over information about Jacob Appelbaum’s email accounts.
Appelbaum is a hacker, independent computer security researcher a core member of the Tor project who has been affiliated with whistle blowing website Wikileaks. Appelbaum represented WikiLeaks at the 2010 Hope conference. Tor is a system which aims to make it possible to surf the web anonymously by routing internet traffic through a volunteer network of servers around the world.
Appelbaum, because of his involvement with Wikileaks, has been the target of police surveillance and subject to repeated harassment and interrogation at airports by officials of U.S. agencies. Appelbaum is routinely detained and has his electronics seized when he crosses the border, so he does not carry with him any sensitive data.
The “secret” 2703(d) court order does not have the same privacy guarantees as a standard court-order, and in the past, some courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional if used to read a suspect’s email. Google spokeswoman Christine Chen said that the company will not speak to a specific case but: “When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if it doesn’t, we can object or ask that the request is narrowed.”
Dane Jasper, CEO for Sonic.net, said it had unsealed the order relating to Appelbaum and gave it to him but can’t talk about details because the case is under seal. Sonic.net is an Internet Service Provider about an hour north of San Francisco.
Twitter has also received 2703(d) orders from federal prosecutors demanding Wikileaks related information. The order required Twitter to hand over subscriber information for Wikileaks editor Julian Assange and Appelbaum, among others.