Twitter Succumbs to NY Judge's Demand

September 18, 2012
1111-Chicago-4 by nooccar, on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License??by??nooccar?
Twitter has provided the required information involving Malcolm Harris (@destructuremal), an Occupy Wall Street protester who resorted to social media to spread his concerns and views. The New York State Supreme Court gave the website a deadline to pass all of Harris' tweets or face a fine based on their income in the past two quarters of 2012. Twitter at first refused to surrender the tweets but finally gave in as the September 14 deadline was closing in. Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino, Jr. ordered Twitter to give up all the tweets of Harris plus other personal information. The tweets were posted over three months. Harris was criminally charged for failure to follow police orders at the Occupy Wall Street Protest in 2011. He, alongside hundreds of others, was arrested for disorderly conduct when they marched on the Brooklyn Bridge. The tweets in question were posted from September 15 to December 31, 2011. Twitter was initially apprehensive about giving out the information, carefully considering the consequences and the fact that other online users might see the act as an infringement of their privacy rights. The social media giant filed a motion to quash the order but was overruled. It then appealed in August but was denied a second time. After an alleged third failed attempt, Twitter finally succumbed to the judge?s order and released the documents together with Harris? email address. The case will most likely set a precedent, covering the authority and right of law enforcement groups to get information from social media fans. Information is presumed to be kept private by millions of users around the globe. This is also the first time online account details and tweets were acquired via a subpoena and not the traditional search warrant. A search warrant needs presentation of a probable cause first before it is granted. According to one Twitter official, the case should direct users to protect their online information using legal means from law enforcement groups that might wish to gain access. Individuals are asked to have some initiative and determine whether their constitutional rights are prejudiced. Do you think Twitter was right to hand over Harris' information to the Feds? Let us know in the comments!

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