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Buchanan agreed with prosecutors, and said the Twitter users had no reason to expect that the information sought by prosecutors would be kept private. The order does not seek the content of the tweets themselves, which are already publicly disseminated. Instead, it seeks certain “non-content” information, like billing records and IP addresses associated with the accounts.

“The Twitter Order does not seek to control or direct the content of petitioners’ speech or association,” Buchanan wrote.

Lawyers for the Twitter users had argued that people would be less likely to speak freely if they knew that doing so could result in their being subjected to a government investigation.

Twitter issued a statement Friday saying its policy “is designed to allow users to defend their own rights. As such, Twitter will continue to let the judicial process run its course.”

The original order issued by Buchanan in December 2010 at prosecutors’ request sought account information from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is being held at Quantico Marine Corps Base amid allegations that he leaked classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to WikiLeaks.

Three other accounts belonging to American Jacob Appelbaum, Dutch citizen Rop Gonggrijp and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s parliament, were also targeted. Those three challenged the court order. Assange has contended that, as an Australian citizen, he is not subject to American law.

Buchanan also rejected a request that would have required the government to disclose whether it sought similar records from other social networking sites like Facebook.