Wikileaks: Homeland Security invokes Patriot Act on Assange; seeks server data

Summary:The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has invoked the Patriot Act on Wikileaks' domain registrar, in a bid to access information on founder Julian Assange.

DNS hoster Dynadot has received a Patriot Act request by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to produce information held about WIkileaks founder Julian Assange, in a fully-fledged "espionage case".

In a tweet by @wikileaks, the whistleblowing organisation confirmed the news.

(Image via Twitter)

The order seeks "all available information" on not only Assange, but Wikileaks also, held by the DNS hoster. The information will be handed to the U.S. grand jury in Alexandria, Virgina.

A Wikileaks press release has been issued:

"The Order demands Dynadot handover the following information for the time period November 1st 2009 to present, within three days of the date of the Order:

1. Subscriber names, user names, screen names, or other identities; 2. mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, e-mail addresses, and other contact information; 3. connection records, or record of session times and durations; 4. length of service (including start date) and typos of service utilized; 5. telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity; including any temporarily assigned network address; and 6. means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records.

Also:

1. records of user activity for any connections made to or from the Account 2. non-content information associated with the contents of any communication or file stored by or for the account(s), such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses. 3. Correspondence and notes of records related to the account."

The full order can be found here [PDF].

Dynadot, based in California, is responsible for hosting the domain name wikileaks.org along with IP addresses belonging to Wikileaks.

Last year, Amazon removed Wikileaks from its hosted service citing reasons that it broke the terms of service, while EveryDNS also removed the site after a series of sustained denial-of-service attacks.

Dynadot was ordered to shut down the wikileaks.org domain in February 2008, after the Julius Baer Trust and Bank brought an injunction against Wikileaks. This forced Wikileaks to roll out alternative domain names -- such as wikileaks.de and wikileaks.cx.

The same judge reversed the injunction citing First Amendment issues a month later.

Use of the Patriot Act to access data within the United States is not uncommon. However, earlier this year, ZDNet exclusively reported that Microsoft, as well as other cloud service providers in Europe and further afield, handed European data in EU-based datacenters, back to U.S. law enforcement -- breaching European data protection laws.

The Patriot Act revised and consolidated counter-terrorism laws post-9/11 to enhance domestic law enforcement investigatory authority, including sweeping surveillance and search powers -- while, some claim the elimination of judicial oversight to ensure these powers are not abused.

Shortly after Microsoft's admission, the European Parliament demanded answers from the United States -- sparking a diplomatic outrage over the disparity in data protection laws.

Europe's Data Protection Directive was brought into law in 1995, and forms the basis of each member state of the European Union's data protection laws.

It has long believed that the United States' Patriot Act outweighs the European data protection laws.

Related content:

Also read ZDNet’s Patriot Act series:

ZDNet's Wikileaks series:

Topics: EU, Banking, Legal, Microsoft

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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