Twitter Ordered to Turn Over Data on Occupy Protester

Activist Post

Twitter has been ordered by a New York judge to hand over the account information and tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protester who was arrested during the mass arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge this past fall.

Reuters reports:

Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino, who is overseeing the hundreds of criminal cases stemming from Occupy-related arrests, rejected the idea that Twitter would violate protester Malcolm Harris’ privacy by turning over the information. 

“If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy,” the judge wrote in his decision. He said he would review the information himself and release relevant portions to both prosecutors and Harris’ lawyer. 

The Saturday ruling, released on Monday, marks the second time in three months that Sciarrino has rejected an attempt to quash a subpoena in the case.

New York Judge Sciarrino said “the request for data did not violate Harris’ privacy rights and that the Stored Communications Act governing disclosure of electronic data protects only private communications.”

“The Constitution gives you the right to post, but as numerous people have learned, there are still consequences for your public posts,” he said. “What you give to the public belongs to the public. What you keep to yourself belongs only to you.”

This ruling comes just after Twitter released their first “transparency report” that revealed the United States is the top country in demanding data on Twitter users.

The data shows that overall Twitter turned over data 63% of the time that governments requested it.  Information requests by the U.S. were submitted 75% of the time.

Yet, Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner maintains to Reuters, “Twitter’s Terms of Service have long made it absolutely clear that its users ‘own’ their content.” She added, “We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights.”

At this point, it seems that everything we do on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media is fair game for prosecutors or other government investigators no matter what we’re told on either side.

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