The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a motion this week on behalf of POGO to intervene in a lawsuit that resulted in the shutdown of Wikileaks, an anti-corruption website where whistleblowers can anonymously upload documents. A similar motion was filed by Public Citizen and the California First Amendment Coalition.
A California federal court issued the permanent injunction a few weeks ago in response to a lawsuit filed by a Swiss bank, Julius Baer Group. The bank complained that a former employee was uploading confidential records that allegedly contained evidence of the bank's tax evasion and offshore dealings. Instead of ordering Wikileaks to remove these individual documents, the judge ruled that the entire site must be shut down.
The motion filed on behalf of POGO claims that the injunction violates the public's First Amendment right to "receive information and ideas." Wikileaks has previously posted documents of great interest to the public, such as a manual describing the U.S. Army's operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
An amicus curiae brief was also filed by a group of media and public interest organizations, including Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society's Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP), the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and the Society of Professional Journalists. David Ardia, director of the CMLP, said in a statement that the court overstepped its boundaries in shutting down a "website that has been at the forefront exposing corruption in governments and corporations around the world."
-- Michael Smallberg