Tags: twitter | harris | tweet | occupy

Twitter Slaps Back at Court Over Occupy Protester Rights

Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:47 PM

By David Alliot

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Twitter has filed a motion this week to quash a judge’s ruling that the microblogger hand over information about an Occupy activist accused of disorderly conduct during a protest on the Brooklyn Bridge, according to Wired.com.

Manhattan prosecutors are charging Malcolm Harris with obstructing traffic on the bridge during an Occupy Wall Street march, and they are seeking to use his personal information and his tweets to build the case against him, stating he “was well aware of the police instructions, and acted with the intent of obstructing traffic on the bridge,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Prosecutors are after tweets Harris allegedly made that may show he was aware that he and other protesters did not have permission to march on the bridge. Police arrested some 700 people during the October protest.
Prosecutors want three months worth of tweets in 2011 and account information including Harris’ email address.

For its part, Twitter is citing Fourth Amendment rights protections against unreasonable searches. The court rejects that premise saying Fourth Amendment protections are for physical homes. Online content stored on a server is not physical and therefore does not have the same privacy protection, the court alleges.

Harris himself motioned to quash the subpoena in April, but the Criminal Court of the City of New York denied his motion, chafing twitter, which stepped in on his behalf with its own motion.

The court ruled that Harris had no proprietary interest in the content he submits to Twitter, and therefore no legal standing. Twitter counters in its motion that its Terms of Service outline that users (“you”) “retain your rights to any content you submit, post, or display.”

A brash Twitter admonished the court for even bringing the subpoena, pointing out that they could have downloaded Harris’ tweets on their own when the tweets were publicly available, according to Wired.com.

Harris has since deleted the tweets, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Twitter finds itself under increasing scrutiny as more users worldwide rely on the service for everything from gossip to movements for social change.

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