Twitter fights request for Occupy protester's data

SAN FRANCISCO Tue May 8, 2012 6:15pm EDT

Occupy Wall Street protesters meditate while a sign bearing their twitter handle hangs from a railing in Zuccotti Park in New York October 1, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Occupy Wall Street protesters meditate while a sign bearing their twitter handle hangs from a railing in Zuccotti Park in New York October 1, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc filed a motion in a New York criminal court on Tuesday seeking to quash a subpoena for Tweets and account records associated with Malcolm Harris, a Twitter user who was arrested last fall on the Brooklyn Bridge during an Occupy protest.

Prosecutors in Manhattan have sought to build a case around Harris' Tweets by arguing that they show Harris was "well aware of the police instructions, and acted with the intent of obstructing traffic on the bridge," according to court filings.

Harris lost a bid to squash the subpoena in April, after a judge ruled that Twitter holds a license to its users' Tweets.

But the company stepped in on Harris' behalf on Tuesday to argue that the license did not apply to Harris because Twitter's terms of service allow users to retain ownership of the content they publish.

Twitter's motion offered some insight into the six-year-old company's legal posture at a time when it is becoming increasingly entangled in criminal prosecutions involving users. In the past year, protesters around the world have relied on the service to organize and disseminate information during demonstrations.

"Yesterday we filed a motion in NYC to defend a user's voice," Twitter's legal counsel, Benjamin Lee, said in a Tweet on Tuesday. He added: "#corevalues."

The Manhattan district attorney's office served a subpoena for Tweets by Harris that are no longer available because Harris deleted them. The Tweets cover three months in 2011.

In March, a judge ordered Twitter to hand over information 7about an account that police said was indirectly tied to the Occupy Boston movement.

(Reporting By Gerry Shih in San Francisco and Joe Ax in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Comments (11)
milestocode wrote:
It does seem that if these were public tweets that, even if the original poster does own them, that he did make them for public digestion and the case could easily be argued that he’s put them out for public consumption and therefore has no right to expect privacy now.

The only way he’d stand a chance that I can see is if he had his twitter limited to followers only so there was some privacy factor involved.

May 08, 2012 8:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
milestocode wrote:
It does seem that if these were public tweets that, even if the original poster does own them, that he did make them for public digestion and the case could easily be argued that he’s put them out for public consumption and therefore has no right to expect privacy now.

The only way he’d stand a chance that I can see is if he had his twitter limited to followers only so there was some privacy factor involved.

May 08, 2012 8:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
would they do the same with the TEA party?

no, they’d probably make stuff up. Go to hell twitter, you are engaging in conspiracy to commit riots and overthrow the US government.

their will be trials once this is said and done…

May 08, 2012 10:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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