I have said it a million times, you need to watch what you say on social networks because communication never fully disappears. A judge ruled this week that social network Twitter must hand over a users deleted data as part of a disorderly conduct lawsuit. Twitter had been fighting tooth and nail against the decision, claiming that doing so would violate the website’s terms of service.
By turning back the microblogging company’s challenge the court could set a precedent which will allow for the admissibility of data relating to statements made on the internet. The move could also force Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to amend their user rights to ensure data is more readily available to law enforcement as requested.
Malcolm Harris is on trial for disorderly conduct during Occupy Wall Street, he was among 700 protesters who were arrested while demonstrating on the Brooklyn Bridge. While the protesters only participated in a minor criminal defense the D.A.’s office have decided to prosecute.
Mr. Harris’ case began in January 2012 when the district attorney’s office issued a subpoena for his tweets, Twitter messages the prosecution said would disprove Harris’ claim that he and other protesters were led out onto the Brooklyn bridge by NYPD officers.
Fighting on Malcolm Harris’ behalf was the American Civil Liberties Union who filed an amicus brief which contended that a search warrant was needed to go after deleted posts. Judge Sciarrino in his decision said “What you give to the public, belongs to the public.”
Prosecutors must now apply for and receive a search warrant to capture tweets that have already been deleted by the Twitter user.