Following on from yesterday’s post about the Australian government wanting access to our phone and web data, recently a New York court ordered Twitter to hand over tweets from the Occupy Wall Street group:
The micro-blogging website had argued that the posts belonged to activist Malcolm Harris and as such it would be violating fourth amendment privacy rights if it were to disclose the communications without first receiving a search warrant.
In January, the New York County district attorney’s office issued a subpoena to Twitter, calling on the firm to hand over “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period 9/15/2011 – 12/31/2011”.
Harris initially attempted to block the move, but was told that he had no proprietary interest to his own messages.
Twitter countered that this contradicts its own terms and conditions, which explicitly states that users “retain their right to any content they submit, post or display on or through”. Moreover, in its own legal challenge to the subpoena, the firm accused prosecutors of trying to force its employees to violate federal law.
Lawyers for Twitter also argued that under the Uniform Act, prosecutors would need to obtain a subpoena in California before it could demand documents from a company based in that state.
Monday’s ruling found that a search warrant was indeed needed for a final day’s worth of tweets by Harris as they fell within a timeline laid out in federal law. All else was fair game for the prosecutors, the judge found.
The court will now review the material and provide the relevant tweets to the DA’s office.
Read the entire article here.
The question now is who owns our communications? Who has the right to access what we had thought were personal and private messages? It makes you think twice about what type of information you transmit via mobile phone and internet.