The United States Department of Homeland Security subpoenaed Twitter this spring over a profile of a New Zealand-based data breach hunter who reported several large information leaks in recent times. The anonymous individual who goes by the online handle "Flash Gordon" expressed their befuddlement with the development in June, wondering why he wasn't contacted in a less formal manner. The writ was delivered to the social media giant by the DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit in late April, requesting information on the person who frequently discovered major data breaches and leaks over the course of the last year.
In accordance with its privacy policies, Twitter notified the researcher about the subpoena and attempted appealing it but failed to do so by a June 20 deadline. The formal summons whose redacted copy can be seen in the gallery below saw ICE ask Twitter for the user's contact details and identifying information tied to their profile, including payment info. The writ didn't demand any private content from the account such as Direct Messages and its purpose remains unclear. A representative of the San Francisco, California-based firm said the company doesn't publicly comment on such matters so as to ensure the privacy and digital security of its users.
The researcher speculates the subpoena may be related to their recent discovery of poorly protected U.S. law enforcement data, ZDNet reports. The fact that stateside authorities opted to pursue whatever matter they're interested in with an export enforcement subpoena is still highly unusual and virtually unprecedented seeing how none of the user's findings seem to be directly related to export control. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provided the researcher with free legal advice as they await further developments. The individual claims at least one New Zealand authority suggested the subpoena is a scam and should be ignored, though that doesn't appear to be the case given how Twitter has been communicating directly with the federal regulator.