Monday 10th December 2018

Homeland Security serves Twitter a subpoena demanding anonymous data breach finder’s personal data

Curiously, the subpoena issued is an export enforcement subpoena, which is typically issued to investigate contraventions of US export law.
Jason Smith
by on 3rd July 2018

Homeland Security issued a subpoena to Twitter on 24th April demanding it hand over the personal details of an anonymous Twitter user who identifies data breaches, according to a report on ZDNet.

The Twitter user, who operates under the handle @s7nsins and the moniker “Flash Gordon,” has historically unearthed a large number of breaches including one from a telemarketing firm last year that comprised personal data on nearly one million patients’.

The subpoena requires Twitter to appear before a special agent of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforce agency (ICE), which has received scrutiny in recent weeks over its detention of migrants at the US border.

It also “requests” Twitter provide data including the “subscriber’s” name, address, telephone number(s), number of credit cards used for billing purposes, the types of services subscribed to and any complaints that have been received about the account.

“Flash Gordon” told ZDNet he’s unclear why Homeland Security is trying to obtain his data, however he believes it may have something to do with a database he unearthed that ZDNet claims reveals police departments lacked the resources to respond to active shooter situations.

The database allegedly contained personal data on officials from the FBI and the US border patrol as well as 17,000 instructors.

Curiously, the subpoena is actually an actually an export enforcement subpoena, a type of subpoena that is typically use for contraventions of US export law. Some commentators have regarded it as curious that such a subpoena would be used in a situation that isn’t an export control matter.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has provided “Flash Gordon” with legal advice to help resolve the issue.