Twitter appeals court ruling to turn over user information

The Manhattan district attorney wants to examine Twitter records in a disorderly conduct case

Twitter has filed an appeal of a New York judge's June decision requiring the company to turn over detailed information about a user tied to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.

Twitter on Monday filed the appeal of the June 30 ruling by Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. of the New York City Criminal Court requiring the company to turn over "any and all" user information, including tweets, related to Occupy Wall Street protestor Malcolm Harris. Harris is being tried for disorderly conduct in connection with an October 2011 march on the Brooklyn Bridge. Sciarrino ruled, on April 20 and June 30, that Harris did not have standing to ask the court to quash the subpoenas of Twitter records by New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

U.S. law allows users of a service an opportunity to quash a subpoena for account records, Twitter said in its appeal.

"Twitter users own their Tweets and should have the right to fight invalid government requests," Twitter's lawyers wrote in the appeal. The subpoena reflects "law enforcement's increased use of information from social media companies in criminal prosecutions," they added.

Twitter will stand with its users in a fight against invalid government requests, wrote Ben Lee, the company's legal counsel, in a Twitter post.

Vance's office, in a May court document, argued that the subpoena sought only public tweets and account information, and Harris could not have a "reasonable expectation of privacy in information he publicly and intentionally broadcast to the world." Twitter also waited three months after the subpoena's return date to file any response, Vance's office argued.

A spokeswoman for Vance declined to comment on Twitter's appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded Twitter for appealing the ruling.

U.S. residents "have the right to speak freely on the Internet, safe in the knowledge that the government cannot obtain information about our communications or our private information unless law enforcement ... obtains a warrant showing probable cause," Aden Fine, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, wrote in a blog post. "The DA didn't do that here. Instead, it has tried to avoid these constitutional hurdles by issuing a mere subpoena for Harris's Twitter information."

The information Vance has sought includes private subscriber information, including Harris' IP addresses, Fine wrote. "By denying Twitter's and Harris' challenge, the court held that the government can access this wealth of sensitive personal information without satisfying basic constitutional protections," he wrote. "That isn't right."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?