In a 60-page judgment handed down by US District Judge Liam O’Grady of Virginia on 10 November 2011, the US Justice Department has been granted access to the IP addresses and email addresses associated with the Twitter accounts of three former Wikileaks associates.

At the hearing, arguing in favour of the motion to vacate the original court’s orders, counsel tried to argue that:
“We could show that not nobody, but most people, the vast majority of people have no idea that Twitter collects the information about their whereabouts….”

The Judge noted that the Petitioners were informed of the Twitter Privacy Policy, that acceptance of the Privacy Policy was a condition of creating a Twitter account and noted that “Petitioners knew or should have known that their IP address information was subject to examination by Twitter, so they had a lessened expectation of privacy in that information, particularly in light of their apparent consent to the Twitter Terms of Service and Privacy Policy…..they also implicitly consented to disclosure of their IP address information to Twitter as a practical necessity of using Internet technology. The Court therefore concludes that even if Petitioners had a reasonable expectation of privacy in their IP address information, the Twitter Order was not intrusive and was, in fact, reasonable”

The decision reinforces the importance of having Website Terms of Use, a Privacy Policy, Customer Agreements and other relevant documentation in place governing your company’s relationship with your customers.

Without such documentation, you are likely exposing your business to significant risk.

The full text of the US decision is available here.

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only. It is not legal advice nor is it a substitute for legal advice. Readers should seek legal advice on their own particular circumstances. Alan Arnott is a technology & telecommunications lawyer with qualifications in computer science and law with Arnotts Lawyers Jones Bay Wharf in Sydney. For more information, please visit www.arnotts.net.au.

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