Court Rules Government Can Get Your Online Personal Data Without Warrant

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A new legal precedent was set yesterday with the decision by a U.S. District Court Judge that the government can, in fact, collect information about you through your internet use without a warrant.

The ruling by Judge Liam O’Grady came in the case of three WikiLeaks associates, and related to government bodies seeking information relating to their Twitter accounts, including IP addresses of mobile devices that had accessed those accounts. According to O’Grady’s ruling, the accused “vountarily chose to use Internet technology to communicate with Twitter and thereby consented to whatever disclosures would be necessary to complete their communications.”

(MORE: Google: U.S. Gov’t, Police Make More Requests for Private Data in 2011)

The ruling would seemingly make it legal for the government to ask websites for personal information on users without cause or oversight, a fact pointed out by Birgitta Jonsdottir, one of the three WikiLeaks associates named in the case, who released a statement saying that “With this decision, the court is telling all users of online tools hosted in the U.S. that the U.S. Government will have secret access to their data.”

The Justice Department has declined comment on the matter, and lawyers for the three named in the case have yet to announce whether the decision will be appealed.

MORE: DOJ Memo Reveals How Long Cell Carriers Retain Your Data

[via Wall Street Journal]

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.