You are hereMSNBC: Twitter protects Occupy protester's privacy

MSNBC: Twitter protects Occupy protester's privacy

-By Helen A.S. Popkin

May 8, 2012- Twitter filed a motion Tuesday requesting that New York state court to overturn an order requiring that the social network provide user information to prosecutors. The user was an Occupy Wall Street protester who was arrested last Oct. 1 in New York City.

Twitter's legal filing accuses prosecutors of asking the company to violate the Fourth Amendment, the Uniform Act and its own Terms of Service. It's a move the American Civil Liberties Union heralds as a strike against the "increasingly aggressive attempts" by federal and state law enforcement officials "to obtain information about what people are doing on the Internet."

In late April, a judge ruled against defendant Malcolm Harris, whose attorney attempted to quash a subpoena requesting his Twitter activity. Harris, along with hundreds of others, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct during a protest march on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Harris, who is protesting the charge along with many others, contends that police officers directed the crowd to march on the roadway, then arrested the marchers for obstructing traffic. Manhattan prosecutors contend that the Twitter records will show that Harris knew about the police order not to walk on the roadways, but did so anyway.

"Defense attorneys have said subpoenas have been issued for at least four protesters’ Twitter accounts," the Wall Street Journal noted in April, after the court ruled in favor of the Twitter subpoena. Prosecutors requested the records because protesters "use Twitter to coordinate activities and warn others of law-enforcement efforts. In doing so, prosecutors believe some have revealed intent to break the law."

When reached by, Twitter provided a statement from legal counsel Ben Lee:

As we said in our brief, "Twitter's Terms of Service make absolutely clear that its users own their content." Our filing with the court reaffirms our steadfast commitment to defending those rights for our users.

The Twitter brief mentioned in fact calls out three reasons why the subpoena "imposes an undue burden" by asking the company to violate its own Terms of Service, as well as several federal laws.



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