Twitter Turns Over Personal Information to U.S. Department of Justice
This article in The Guardian details Birgitta Jónsdóttir’s opinion regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to “hack” her Twitter account in order to investigate her connection with Wikileaks. Her article details the desire to protect privacy rights on the internet, and how it is akin to basic human rights treaties and the like. Her argument essentially assumes that the U.S. Department of Justice’s request for her personal information is not legitimate, and thus the user agreement must be subversive. (I for one am assuming that the Twitter user agreement states that Twitter will not turn over personal/private information without a warrant or a similarly compelling legal agreement. Admittedly I, perhaps embarrassingly, still cannot figure out how the platform works, or else I would investigate further.) Additionally, Germany recently required its government offices to shut down official pages on Facebook for similar invasion of privacy concerns.
Facebook & Twitter Subject to Federal Government’s Demands
While I generally agree with the author’s sentiments, I wouldn’t want the feds to be privy to my internet activity, it is important to keep in mind that Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. are not publicly owned entities, they are in fact privately owned companies. Companies in general have the sole driving force of making a profit. Thus, even though we may not read the user agreements required to sign up for such services, we are agreeing to at least some subversion of privacy rights when we use them. And the sad truth is, aside from joining frivolous groups allegedly dedicated to eradicating privacy concerns, there really is very little we can do about it, and if we don’t like it, we can choose not to partake.
Do I think that using social platforms should be an absolute subversion to personal rights? No. But, it’s something we have to deal with if we agree to use a free service that provides us with the benefits of remaining in touch with umpteen cousins, aunts, friends, followers, etc.
The whole situation is ironic, however, because if someone is merely exercising their First Amendment rights to criticize the U.S. government, they may nonetheless be subject to investigation for subversive speech or actions.
Here’s a helpful guide on safeguarding your privacy.
What do you think? Does the potential subversion of privacy rights deter you from creating an account on social networking and other websites?
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