U.S. wins Twitter battle against foreign WikiLeaks collaborator

Summary:Let this be a warning to other foreign agents who want to cause harm to the U.S. Don't.

Sometimes people amuse me. Take, for example, the case of Birgitta Jonsdottir. She's the former WikiLeaks collaborator who's crying foul because a U.S. court upheld the United States' right to protect itself against her attacks.

This is no simple case of privacy, no matter what the foreign press would have you believe.

Jonsdottir is an MP, a member of the Icelandic parliament. That's roughly analogous to being a member of Congress here in the U.S. She's also a WikiLeaks collaborator, having last year enabled the trafficking of a top-secret U.S. government video through WikiLeaks.

Now, in a probe into her actions against U.S. interests, Jonsdottir's communications via Twitter are being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department. This week, a U.S. court granted DOJ access to her Twitter traffic, which Twitter is, quite properly, complying with.

Despite the cries of despair from deluded privacy advocates being duped by foreign governments, this is not a violation of social networking privacy. Instead, it's a government protecting itself from the nearly espionage-level actions of a member (a governing member!) of a foreign nation.

Let's imagine, say, how the U.K. would feel if, say, U.S. Congressman Ron Paul were to sneak into Number 10 Downing Street, steal some top-secret video, and post it online. Maybe Ron Paul isn't the best example, because he already seems a little strange. But what if, oh, Congressman John Boehner decided to go sneaking around, stealing confidential government documents from, say, Israel -- and then publishing them for everyone to see.

Put simply, those governments would be incensed. They might approach the U.S. and ask keep our people under control, or, more likely, they would consider these actions attacks by our government against theirs.

This is the case with Birgitta Jonsdottir. She's claiming the U.S. court decision is, "a huge blow for everybody that uses social media."

It's not. It's a blow for government agents who try to use services produced by a country they're spying against, who then fight back.

Let's deconstruct this one more step. A member of a foreign government stole information from our government and then used a social network, built, owned, and operated in our country to communicate with her collaborators.

Of course, we're going to crack down on that. We'd be fools not to. Regardless of the content of the video, our Justice Department is protecting our security from the actions of a foreign agent. An American company is cooperating with our Justice Department because their service was abused by the same foreign agent, all with the intent of causing harm to America.

So, no. This is not a privacy issue at all. It's a national security issue and our courts were 100% correct in their determination.

See also ZDNet's London Calling: U.S. judge upholds Twitter subpoena of Wikileaks’ followers

Let this be a warning to other foreign agents who want to cause harm to the U.S. Don't. And don't try hiding your conspiratorial communications in our networks. We'll find them, find you, and we will rout you out.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Enterprise Software, Government, Government : US

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.