Speak No Evil: Google Was Gagged By The Feds Over Wikileaks Investigation
Credit: Felipe Nogs
January 29, 2015

So the feds tried to get information from Twitter about an Icelandic politician who was supporting Wikileaks. They institute a broad gag order for an indeterminate period of time that's probably unconstitutional, because "we don't like backlash"? If only it didn't turn you into a target to question the surveillance state!

Earlier this week, we wrote about how the feds got a warrant demanding all email and other information about three Wikileaks-associated reporters. While the warrants issued in 2012, Wikileaks only found out about it a few weeks ago when Google told them, saying that an earlier gag order had been partially lifted. Wikileaks lashed out at Google for not letting them know earlier.

However, in response, Google has noted that it fought the request and that it was gagged from saying anything until now.

Google says it challenged the secrecy from the beginning and was able to alert the customers only after the gag orders on those warrants were partly lifted, said Gidari, a partner at Perkins Coie.

“From January 2011 to the present, Google has continued to fight to lift the gag orders on any legal process it has received on WikiLeaks,” he said, adding that the firm’s policy is to challenge all gag orders that have indefinite time periods.

But, much more interesting was a separate point made by the lawyer, Albert Gidari, over why the feds demanded the gag order:

According to Gidari, whose firm has represented both firms, Google’s delay was not the result of foot-dragging but of opposition from prosecutors who were upset by the backlash that followed the disclosure of their court orders to Twitter.


“The U.S. attorney’s office thought the notice and the resulting publicity was a disaster for them,” Gidari said. “They were very upset” about the prosecutor’s name and phone number being disclosed, he said. “They went through the roof.”

Gidari also claims that "Google litigated up and down through the courts trying to get the orders modified so that notice could be given."

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