Three days after the White House issued a “WikiLeaks executive order” in an effort to avoid further WikiLeaks-style releases, the Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government has obtained a secret court order to acquire the e-mail data of a former WikiLeaks volunteer.
The order forces Google and a small Internet provider called Sonic.net to hand over the e-mail addresses of the people that Jacob Appelbaum, 28, corresponded with over the past two years, but not the full e-mails.
An independent computer security researcher and hacker, Appelbaum has reportedly been detained five times at the U.S. border in recent years, and had his laptop and several mobile phones seized. He has never been charged with a crime.
While Sonic.net appears to have spent a great deal of money to fight the order, Google has not commented on whether it complied or resisted.
The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows the government to secretly obtain information from people’s e-mail and cellphones without a warrant, has been an increasingly hot topic as it is applied to the Web.
Several courts have questioned whether the act violates constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
Appelbaum made clear where he stood on the issue Monday, tweeting: “State Terrorism of our individual lives is the most relevant Terrorism to everyday Americans. We must resist it at every opportunity.”
After a trove of WikiLeaks cables was released last year, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the United States was pursuing an “active criminal investigation” of WikiLeaks.