Judge Rules Twitter Must Turn Over Occupy Protester's Messages
by Eyder Peralta
An interesting technological case has emerged from the Occupy Wall Street protests of last fall. At issue is whether prosectors can simply subpoena the tweets of Malcom Harris, one of about 700 protesters arrested last year while walking on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr. had already ruled on this once before saying Harris had no jurisdiction to challenge the subpoena because his tweets belonged to Twitter.
The social media company then stepped in and challenged the subpoena on behalf of Harris. Part of their argument was whether authorties would need a judge-issued warrant to attain Twitter records and another part of their argument was that giving Twitter jurisdiction of users' tweets means the company would have to fight on behalf of their users, which is expensive and burdensome.
Sciarrino decided Twitter should be the one with legal standing and that Tweeting is not private.
"If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy," Sciarrino wrote in his opinion. "There is no proprietary interest in your tweets, which you have now gifted to the world. This is not the same as a private email, a private direct message, a private chat, or any of the other readily available ways to have a private conversation via the internet that now exist. Those private dialogues would require a warrant based on probable cause in order to access the relevant information."
Prosecutors, by the way, wanted Harris' tweets because they think they can prove he knew police did not want them on the roadway when he was arrested.
This will be appealed, but eventually it will be found out that the practicality of this demand and the search for criminality is pointless. This is an attempt to scare away people from being socially active and politically involved.
I was thinking the same thing Chris. Theirs been nothng on the News on TV about it, just on the internet.
Not to mention, their trying to attack Facebook as well.
That is why I spend more time on my notebook online than in from of the T.V. the networks just don't show everything.
The real trick is getting around the direct institutional interference this movement will face, be it on the internet or out in the public.