Does anybody take America seriously over its alleged free speech wishes?
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, praised the role of social networks such as Twitter in promoting freedom – at the same time as the US government was in court seeking to invade the privacy of Twitter users.
Lawyers for civil rights organisations appeared before a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, battling against a US government order to disclose the details of private Twitter accounts in the WikiLeaks row, including that of the Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, below.
The move against Twitter has turned into a constitutional clash over the protection of individual rights to privacy in the digital age.
Clinton, in a speech in Washington, cited the positive role that Twitter, Facebook and other social networks played in uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In a stirring defence of the internet, she spoke of the “freedom to connect”.
The irony of the Clinton speech coming on the day of the court case was not lost on the constitutional lawyers battling against the government in Alexandria. The lawyers also cited the Tunisian and Egyptian examples. Aden Fine, who represents the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the leading civil rights groups in the country, said: “It is very alarming that the government is trying to get this information about individuals’ communications. But, also, above all, they should not be able to do this in secret.”