The US government routinely invokes its right to keep things secret and the courts are loath to overrule them whenever the government wraps itself with the cloak of national security. For example, consider a recent ruling by a federal appeals court.
A federal appeals court has ruled that three suspects targeted in a WikiLeaks investigation have no right to know from which companies, other than Twitter, the government sought to obtain their records.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp had sought to obtain a docket list indicating all of the 2703(d) orders the government issued in relation to their case after discovering that the government had issued such an order to Twitter in Dec. 2010, and to Google and Sonic.net in January and April 2011.
All three people are associated with WikiLeaks and the government’s secret surveillance of them is part of the ongoing war against that organization.
The ACLU said that Friday’s ruling showed how easy it is for the government to obtain information about what people are doing on the internet and highlights the need to update electronic privacy laws to keep pace with technology.
Ironically, NPR this past week ran a series (see here, here, and here) on how the big, bad Chinese government is using technology to monitor its own population and hack into the systems of companies in the west. They expressed alarm that a foreign government would seek to find out by such means what others knew and were saying.
It would have been nice if the NPR reports had mentioned, even in passing, that the US government, through its various agencies such as the NSA and CIA, routinely monitors and stores all US communications and engages in cybersnooping of its own citizens and hacking into the computers of other countries such as office of the French president and Iranian power plants and other industries, and even launches cyberattacks on other countries, so we should hardly be surprised if other countries do the same.