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Justice Department Demands Five Twitter Users’ Personal Info Over an Emoji

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: Back in May, the Justice Department — apparently lacking anything better to do with its time — sent a subpoena to Twitter, demanding a whole bunch of information on five Twitter users, including a few names that regular Techdirt readers may be familiar with. If you can’t see that, it’s a subpoena asking for information on the following five Twitter users: @dawg8u (“Mike Honcho”), @abtnatural (“Virgil”), @Popehat (Ken White), @associatesmind (Keith Lee) and @PogoWasRight (Dissent Doe). I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about three of those five in previous Techdirt posts. Either way, they’re folks who are quite active in legal/privacy issues on Twitter. And what info does the DOJ want on them? Well, basically everything: [users’ names, addresses, IP addresses associated with their time on Twitter, phone numbers and credit card or bank account numbers.] That’s a fair bit of information. Why the hell would the DOJ want all that? Would you believe it appears to be over a single tweet from someone to each of those five individuals that consists entirely of a smiley face? I wish I was kidding. Here’s the tweet and then I’ll get into the somewhat convoluted back story. The tweet is up as I write this, but here’s a screenshot in case it disappears. The Department of Justice’s subpoena is intended to address allegations that Shafer, who has a history of spotting weak encryption and drawing attention to it, cyberstalked an FBI agent after the agency raided his home. Vanity Fair summarizes the incident: “In 2013, Shafer discovered that FairCom’s data-encryption package had actually exposed a dentist’s office to data theft. An F.T.C. settlement later validated Shafer’s reporting, but in 2016, when another dentist’s office responded to Shafer’s disclosure by claiming he’d violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and broken the law, the F.B.I. raided his home and confiscated many of his electronics. Shafer was particularly annoyed at F.B.I. Special Agent Nathan Hopp, who helped to conduct the raid, and who was later involved in a different case: in March, he compiled a criminal complaint involving the F.B.I.’s arrest of a troll for tweeting a flashing GIF at journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who is epileptic. Shafer began to compile publicly available information about Hopp, sharing his findings on Twitter. The Twitter users named in the subpoena had started a separate discussion about Hopp, with one user calling Hopp the “least busy F.B.I. agent of all time,” a claim that prompted Shafer’s smiley-faced tweet.”


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