Twitter ban ends for 14 Anonymous members

March 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM
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SAN JOSE, Calif., March 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. magistrate in California lifted a Twitter ban on 14 members of the group "Anonymous" under indictment for their alleged online assault against PayPal.

In his opinion, Magistrate Paul Grewal said the federal government didn't sufficiently link the Anonymous members' alleged criminal activities to a Twitter account and ruled the defendants were free to resume using the micro-blogging social network site, The Smoking Gun reported Monday.

Grewal's order was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.

Federal prosecutors had argued Anonymous' attack against PayPal was carried out through Twitter so they should be barred from using the social networking Web site as a condition for bail.

In January, defendant Vincent Kershaw of Colorado argued barring his use of Twitter infringed on his First Amendment right of free speech, saying the prohibition prevented him from "even perusing such critical communications from our own president or engaging in the Twitter town halls in any manner," court documents indicated.

In rebuttal, a prosecutor said Twitter was one of the "principle tools through which the members of the Anonymous hacking group planned and coordinated their criminal activities."

Kershaw and his co-defendants were charged in July with conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer for their alleged participation in a denial of service attack on PayPal in December 2010. The denial-of-service attack, which made PayPal unavailable to users, was prompted by the suspension of WikiLeaks' PayPal account following publication of classified U.S. government documents, cables and communications.

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