By Jennifer Wong
Twitter Ordered to Release Information in WikiLeaks Case
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ordered Twitter
to release information about three of its users who have possible ties to the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks
, the New York Times
reports. The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) sought the information last year, but not with a search warrant. Rather, they ordered the information be revealed pursuant to the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 (2006). The information includes Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses, which can be used to identify and discern the location of a computer used to log on to the internet. The three account holders argued in court that their IP addresses should be considered private, that the order suppressed their right to free speech and that the information was irrelevant to WikiLeaks. However, the court did not agree. In his judicial opinion, Judge Liam O’Grady expressed that the information was material to the DOJ’s investigation of WikiLeaks and that the users “voluntarily” revealed their IP addresses when they signed up for a Twitter account. The court also dismissed a petition to have the DOJ reveal its rationale for why it wanted the information. According to the Guardian
, one of the users, Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir, plans to bring her case to the Council of Europe.
AOL to Pay $10 Million in Patent Infringement Suit
reports that a federal court jury has returned a verdict of 10 million dollars in favor of BASCOM Global Internet Services
in its lawsuit against AOL
. The $10 million is intended to cover unpaid royalties for AOL’s infringement of one of BASCOM’s patents. BASCOM is a Long Island-based company that creates Internet filtering software that is heavily used by educational institutions. In 2008, BASCOM brought suit against both AOL and Yahoo
for patent infringement. While Yahoo settled with BASCOM, AOL decided to go to trial. According to Long Island Business News
, BASCOM’s president testified that he had tried to negotiate licenses for the patent with several industry giants, but they declined because they did not think he had the means to enforce the patent. AOL has indicated that it will appeal the decision.
Court Blocks FDA Requirement of Graphic Warnings on Cigarette Packaging
According to a federal court judge, new FDA requirements
for cigarette packaging may violate the First Amendment by compelling speech, Reuters
reports. The proposed requirements would have tobacco companies place large graphic images of adverse, smoking-related health consequences on cigarette packets. The graphic images include a man smoking out of a hole in his throat and a mouth covered in diseased lesions. Several tobacco companies are currently suing the FDA over the new requirements. Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a temporary injunction allowing the companies not to comply with the requirements until after the resolution of the lawsuit. According to CBS
, Leon expressed in his opinion that the graphic depictions went beyond mere warnings of the health risks of smoking and acted more like anti-smoking advocacy. He said that the new requirements were like advertising for the FDA’s “obvious anti-smoking agenda” and that the companies would likely prevail in their lawsuit.