Twitter ‘Weighing Options’ After Court Orders Information Be Turned Over in Disorderly Conduct Case
As we reported earlier, Twitter has been ordered by a court to retrieve and supply deleted user data in a case that may have a bunch of unpleasant implications for both services like Twitter as well as their millions of users.
What’s troubling is that the case — that of Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street protester that had been arrested and had also deleted some tweets — is both a small one as well as one related to political dissent. That such a lengthy and high-profile case would result from such a small charge is worrisome, but so too is it a problem that Harris’ crime was speaking out in Occupy protests.
As James pointed out, the Occupy Twitter ruling could affect the admissibility of statements made on the internet in a multitude of ways. And Twitter has not been pleased with the machinations set into motion to retrieve the data from the outset — but after the most recent decision, the microblogging service said in a news agency statement that they still don’t believe the data should be handed over:
“We are disappointed in the judge’s decision and are considering our options… Twitter’s Terms of Service have long made it absolutely clear that its users *own* their content. We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights.”
Aside from Twitter, the ACLU also takes issue with the weakening of rights when the internet comes into play. In a blog post, Aden Fine of the ACLU says:
“What is surprising, though, is that the court continued to fail to grapple with one of the key issues underlying this case: do individuals give up their ability to go to court to try to protect their free speech and privacy rights when they use the Internet? As we explained in our friend-of-the-court brief last month, the answer has to be no.”
“The United States Supreme Court and courts around the country have repeatedly made clear that individuals whose constitutional rights are implicated by government requests for information to third parties (such as Twitter) have standing to challenge those third-party requests, and there’s no reason for the result to be different when Internet activities are at issue, regardless of whether individuals “own” their Internet speech or whether the Internet companies ‘own’ it.”
CNN notes that just as the case was grabbing headlines, Twitter released a report indicating that the US is responsible for 75% of user data requests from governments.