Judge lifts injunction against Wikileaks

Whistleblower site back online; civil rights groups pleased

The judge also issued a temporary restraining order that forbade Wikileaks from displaying, posting, publishing, or distributing any material pertaining to the bank on any site that it directly owned or over which it had any control. The order instructed Wikileaks to ensure that all of the bank's information was removed from all Web sites it owned or controlled, to disable links to the material on such sites, and to provide the court with proof that it had complied with the orders. The judge's order even enjoined everyone who read the order or received notice of it from publishing or even linking to the documents.

The rulings drew scathing criticism from privacy and civil rights groups that saw it as a flagrant violation of First Amendment rights. Several felt the court had overreacted in ordering the entire domain shut down, just because a relatively small number of documents it hosted were being disputed.

Earlier last week, several privacy and civil rights advocates announced their support for Wikileaks in the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a motion seeking the court's permission to formally intervene in the case.

Expressing similar support was Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society's Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP). Earlier last week, the center filed a brief opposing the court's injunctions against Wikileaks and its domain registrar Dynadot LLC. The amici curiae (friend of the court) brief, which was developed in collaboration with several media and public-interest organizations, asked the court to take back its decision and cited First Amendment concerns.

A statement issued by the EFF expressed satisfaction at Judge White's decision. "We're very pleased that Judge White recognized the serious constitutional concerns raised by his earlier orders," EFF senior staff attorney Matt Zimmerman was quoted as saying in the statement.

"Attempting to interfere with the operation of an entire website because you have a dispute over some of its content is never the right approach. Disabling access to an Internet domain in an effort to prevent the world from accessing a handful of widely-discussed documents is not only unconstitutional -- it simply won't work."

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Jaikumar Vijayan

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