U.S. Gets Green Light|to Gag Twitter, Yahoo

     (CN) – The Obama administration won its bid for a gag order to stop Twitter and Yahoo from discussing a federal grand jury subpoena regarding an alleged felony.
     Late last month, U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts, chief judge for the District of Columbia, overturned a pair of orders by a federal magistrate judge, regarding the government’s attempt to keep the from telling anyone about the existence or content of the grand jury subpoena.
     The section describing the investigation is blacked out, except one mention of “a felony.”
     The magistrate judge’s first order required the government to file a public, redacted copy of its gag-order application, and the second invited Twitter and Yahoo to intervene as a respondent.
     “Twitter should first be heard before the court restricts its right to free speech,” U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola wrote in his nine-page order.
     The government appealed the orders and persuaded Judge Roberts to issue gag orders against the internet companies.
     In his April 28 rulings, Roberts said Facciola’s orders “are not supported” by law.
     He said the government’s application and proposed gag order “are protected from disclosure … as ancillary materials related to an ongoing grand jury investigation, and there is no First Amendment right of public access to these court records.”
     Roberts also ruled that it wasn’t necessary for either company to intervene, because the law allows them to seek to quash or modify a gag order only after the court issues one.
     He vacated Facciola’s rulings and issued gag orders against Twitter and Yahoo, which he sealed along with the application.

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