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May 21, 2010

Politician tries to out anonymous Twitter critics

Posted: 11:42 AM ET

Pennsylvania's attorney general recently subpoenaed Twitter for the real names of two anonymous bloggers who have been criticizing him. Twitter generally doesn't give out user identities, according to a statement issued to the blog TechCrunch. And the American Civil Liberties Union in Pennsylvania now says it will represent the online critics.

"Any subpoena seeking to unmask the identity of anonymous critics raises the specter of political retaliation," Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, says in a prepared statement. "It's a prized American right to criticize government officials, and to do so anonymously."

The anonymous Twitter users in question - @CasablancaPA and @bfbarbie - continue to use their feeds to criticize Tom Corbett, the current Pennsylvania AG, who also is running for the governorship in that state as a Republican.

According to the subpoena, as posted by TechCrunch, Corbett wants the Twitter users' names, addresses, contact info, IP addresses. This isn't the first time a politician or celebrity has tried to out anonymous dissenters online. Last year, the New York Supreme Court ordered, which is owned by Google, to release the identity of an anonymous online writer who had been ranting about former cover girl Liskula Cohen.

The identity fight in Pennsylvania also comes as the Web in general is becoming less anonymous. Facebook is leading the charge against anonymity, as it encourages its 400 million users to use their Facebook profiles - with photos, real names and background information - to comment on online news stories, music, events and other web content.

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Filed under: 4chan • anonymity • Facebook • Internet • Twitter

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Franko   May 21st, 2010 12:33 pm ET

Soon, the Internet will be severely regulated.
Those with the legal means will sue to exclude and to promote their bias.

Can the Iceland Wiki initiative remain free and protect the truth ?

fjfdfdf   May 21st, 2010 1:06 pm ET

i think that teh internet should be anonomys i mean i make fun of the jonas brotheres all the time and im not telling those creeps my adress

Franko   May 21st, 2010 1:25 pm ET

The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative – Professor Salvör Gissurardóttir
How soon before Iceland is invaded, and all Internet users micro chipped ?

Knock knock. - Who is there ?
The Internet police to seize your computer and waterboard your goldfish.

Michael   May 21st, 2010 4:48 pm ET the PA AG so afraid of people online that he has to resort to that?

Hmmm...maybe I just criticized him...

Bobby Ray   May 21st, 2010 6:30 pm ET

Why can't everyone just let the Republicans control ALL the information? How dare 2 people have and express opinions on an elected public official. They must be stopped and tortured. This never would have happened on Cheney's watch. ...Crap! I just got subpoenaed!

Joe   May 21st, 2010 6:33 pm ET

I can't help wondering if Tom Corbett has hired Dick Cheney as his campaign manager.

Brian P   May 21st, 2010 9:22 pm ET

The revolution will soon be televised.

Gwats   May 22nd, 2010 12:59 pm ET

Awwwww......the PA AG needs a cocoa and a nap!

Franko   May 22nd, 2010 1:10 pm ET

 Can't he just pay some Chinese hackers ?
 Asking Google, Microsoft, CIA, FBI, KGB, NSA, takes too long.

Josh   May 22nd, 2010 5:55 pm ET

WOW, this guy has some nerve, to run for AG office than clearly abuse the law like this, I hope voters in his district see this and do the right thing and don't let him near any public office ever. I can see why people would criticize such a dirt bag.

Joshua   May 23rd, 2010 8:29 am ET

There is no valid reason that he should have access to the user's information. This seems to be a blatant misuse of authority to me.

Manuel   May 23rd, 2010 1:11 pm ET

Why would pennsylvanians want a governor, OOps! that is so power hungry that if anyone even mentions my name I want to know every single thing about them. What can he or she be planning to do to them with the power invested in them? I think I would get as far away from a tyrant like that. I wouldn't even let the power hungry individual be in charge of my trash. Obviously anyone who uses taxpayer money to crucify free speach should not even serve soup let alone govern anything, they'd GOVERN us all right to JAIL. This is outrageous. I thought the governors office was to be used to serve US the public. Should we allow them to use the power we give them to HANG US ALL? If a screwball is allowed to MOW DOWN with elected power anyone who gives their opinion of him or her we might as well all live in a country where you are put into a HULAG for your opinion. I say vote them out of every office and elect decent people to WORK FOR US. The PEOPLE should be in charge of this United States. Government employees are hired to obey US. How did it come about that now THEY make the rules and WE obey THE GOVERNMENT? I think that the people have LOST control of THEIR government. Enough is enough. We need to evaluate the performance of every government office and hire and fire accordingly just like anyone else that performs or does not perform their duties anywhere else. 6 month evaluations and your out on your ass if you are doing a lousy job. All the way up to the pres. Tell this GENERAL goofball this is just the beginning and that he or she better start doing their job properly or they can kiss the gravy train position good bye. Let the american people take back their freedom.

gwats   May 23rd, 2010 1:41 pm ET

I had to read this twice. Personally, I'll stand behind anything I post online 100%, but I do appreciate Services that protect my privacy. As for Facebook, they are starting to get some backlash for their anti-privacy stance and I hope it stings them. Perhaps that anal-retentive AG in PA should grow a thicker skin and I DARE him to come after me!

The Lizard   May 23rd, 2010 8:14 pm ET

Uh, for those of you who didn't get it, THIS GUY IS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN PENNSYLVANIA!! He just won the bloody R primary. This whole prosecution circus since 2008 has been nothing but a campaign stunt from beginning to end. If it were for real, the AG would have practiced some ethics and resigned from office while seeking the governorship. Then he could have handed off this travesty to a REAL attorney to handle. So my question is - when will he be indicted for using his own staff for campaign related matters?

DavidH   May 23rd, 2010 10:01 pm ET

"So my question is – when will he be indicted for using his own staff for campaign related matters?"

Valid question. My question is-why isn't this happening as we speak?

Sency   May 24th, 2010 1:36 am ET

worrying about what people say on Twitter can be tough for a politician

Vikas   April 1st, 2012 1:48 pm ET

\"Be sure your sins will find you out\". Common sense should tell you that if you make enuogh noise, you will draw attention to yourself.

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