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Twitter Must Hand Over Tweets of OWS Protester

By - Source: New York Post | B 25 comments

Twitter is ordered to hand over tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protestor, or face a substantial fine.

The New York Post reports that Twitter has been ordered by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Sciarrino Jr. to hand over possibly incriminating tweets posted by an Occupy Wall Street protestor.

According to reports, Twitter, citing privacy concerns and other issues, fought with the District Attorney's office for months in regards to handing over deleted tweets posted by protestor Malcolm Harris. Twitter even filed an appeal against a subpoena to provide them in a criminal case, but the appeals judges ruled that the defense could not delay the criminal case. Thus Judge Sciarrino told the social network that it had until Friday to cooperate, or face a fine for contempt of court.

"They don’t want to go in contempt," said Martin Stolar, Harris' lawyer.

Harris was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct along with around 700 other protestors accused of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011. The tweets in question are no longer available online, but prosecutors claim that those specific tweets reveal that Harris knew that police informed the group that they could not walk on the roadway.

The OWS protestors naturally claim otherwise however, stating that the police intentionally corralled them onto the bridge so that they could be arrested for trespassing. Harris claims that he has done nothing wrong and continues to fight the court, yet many of those that were arrested have taken no-jail pleas, reluctant to battle the court system.

Because the judge can't put the "little blue bird in jail" for contempt of court, he said there would be a substantial fine if the tweets weren't in his hands by Friday. As an incentive to get what he needs, the judge also told Twitter's lawyers that the social website must disclose sensitive financial information so that he could determine the exact amount of the fine if Twitter didn't comply.

The court system generally believes that posts published on Twitter are public domain, therefore users have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Typically Twitter complies with orders for account information and messages, but didn't immediately comply in this particular case because, according to sources close to the matter, the prosecutors immediately approached Twitter with threats of criminal contempt charges.

"It was a bit of a slap in the face," according to an unnamed source.

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  • 22 Hide
    thefizzle656 , September 15, 2012 1:55 AM
    "Harris was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct along with around 700 other protestors accused of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2012."

    More important than anything else in this article is the fact that the OWS protestors (as well as the court) apparently have a time machine. Or maybe this is like The Minority Report and the suspect is being convicted of a crime he has yet to commit.
  • 21 Hide
    cheepstuff , September 15, 2012 1:40 AM
    Quote:
    Harris was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct along with around 700 other protestors accused of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2012


    ... does anybody see a problem here?
    Maybe I'm just crazy.
  • 13 Hide
    blazorthon , September 15, 2012 1:37 AM
    If twitter was so worried about this issue, then they should have made it impossible to recover the deleted tweets before they were in trouble with the law over this. I'm not justifying either side of this, just saying that it could have more or less solved this.
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    devotiecon , September 15, 2012 1:15 AM
    Quote:
    As an incentive to get what he needs, the judge also told Twitter's lawyers that the social website must disclose sensitive financial information so that he could determine the exact amount of the fine if Twitter didn't comply.

    I lol'd.
  • 13 Hide
    blazorthon , September 15, 2012 1:37 AM
    If twitter was so worried about this issue, then they should have made it impossible to recover the deleted tweets before they were in trouble with the law over this. I'm not justifying either side of this, just saying that it could have more or less solved this.
  • 21 Hide
    cheepstuff , September 15, 2012 1:40 AM
    Quote:
    Harris was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct along with around 700 other protestors accused of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2012


    ... does anybody see a problem here?
    Maybe I'm just crazy.
  • -5 Hide
    cheepstuff , September 15, 2012 1:41 AM
    Quote:
    Harris was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct along with around 700 other protestors accused of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2012


    ... does anybody see a problem here?
    Maybe I'm just crazy.
  • 22 Hide
    thefizzle656 , September 15, 2012 1:55 AM
    "Harris was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct along with around 700 other protestors accused of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2012."

    More important than anything else in this article is the fact that the OWS protestors (as well as the court) apparently have a time machine. Or maybe this is like The Minority Report and the suspect is being convicted of a crime he has yet to commit.
  • 8 Hide
    thefizzle656 , September 15, 2012 2:04 AM
    blazorthonIf twitter was so worried about this issue, then they should have made it impossible to recover the deleted tweets before they were in trouble with the law over this. I'm not justifying either side of this, just saying that it could have more or less solved this.


    The issue I have is that they even keep deleted tweets. But I guess with Google an other tech companies doing the exact same with with all of our emails, etc there is no real incentive for Twitter to do any different.
  • 0 Hide
    groveborn , September 15, 2012 2:39 AM
    It's not a simple matter to instantly delete a post. There are millions of such request per day. It has to be queued in order to prevent utter chaos and crashing.
  • 0 Hide
    sun-devil99 , September 15, 2012 2:42 AM
    Quote:
    Harris was reportedly charged with disorderly conduct along with around 700 other protestors accused of blocking the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2012.


    So then does that mean it is not really September 2012 and the Mayan's were wrong?
  • 5 Hide
    blazorthon , September 15, 2012 2:43 AM
    grovebornIt's not a simple matter to instantly delete a post. There are millions of such request per day. It has to be queued in order to prevent utter chaos and crashing.


    That doesn't matter. The posts were already deleted. If Twitter's deletion methods actually deleted the posts rather than hiding them somewhere, then this would probably not be an issue or at least be less of an issue.
  • 3 Hide
    blazorthon , September 15, 2012 2:44 AM
    sun-devil99So then does that mean it is not really September 2012 and the Mayan's were wrong?


    The Mayan's long count calender doesn't have leap days. If you account for this discrepancy, it ended several years ago. Besides, the Mayans never said that the world would end at the end of their calender, that was a load of BS.
  • 0 Hide
    lysinger , September 15, 2012 2:52 AM
    I guess we will soon find out if all the nothings we tweet all day long are being recorded somewhere. My bet is they are along with all those kiosk scans of our bodies at the Airport security checkpoints.

    Love the typo on the date. Spell check is wonderful, but I've noticed entirely too many typos similar to this in books the past 10 years. I bet the author of that article has a college degree too.
  • 8 Hide
    blazorthon , September 15, 2012 2:58 AM
    Quote:
    I guess we will soon find out if all the nothings we tweet all day long are being recorded somewhere. My bet is they are along with all those kiosk scans of our bodies at the Airport security checkpoints.

    Love the typo on the date. Spell check is wonderful, but I've noticed entirely too many typos similar to this in books the past 10 years. I bet the author of that article has a college degree too.


    It wouldn't be a Tom's article if it didn't have any typos :( 
  • -2 Hide
    freggo , September 15, 2012 3:50 AM
    cheepstuff... does anybody see a problem here?Maybe I'm just crazy.


    Yes, a BIG problem.
    This is yet another example that 'delete' is not 'gone forever' when it comes to the digital age.

    All these folks out there thinking that cleaning out the Trashcan removes something from a hard drive or memory chip; think again.

    I think there is a huge difference between a court being able to subpoena something that is 'active' on your account vs something you deleted.
  • -1 Hide
    southernshark , September 15, 2012 4:31 AM
    People should never start a social network in the USA.

    Realistically, if Twitter were say.... a Guatemalan corporation... nothing would happen here. They could flick the judge the bird and laugh about it.

    No tech company should be located in the USA.
  • 3 Hide
    sykozis , September 15, 2012 4:42 AM
    The problem I see, is that the court is trying to make an example of Harris by any means necessary..... Just my opinion here....but I smell corruption...
  • 1 Hide
    nightbird321 , September 15, 2012 5:07 AM
    It's not a surprise that Public Domain messages are fair game in court, however I hope private companies aren't expected to keep public domain stuff forever and in cases of deletion will be paid fair fees like any other forensic specialists would be to recover information.

    Twitter is in a tough spot because they can't claim unreasonable costs as a reason to frequently delete things permanently, by design years worth of short text messages can probably be stored in a thumb drive. However companies that host pictures and videos are a different story so I'd be interest in what happens if a court asks Google to recover a permanently deleted video.
  • 1 Hide
    Vladislaus , September 15, 2012 12:02 PM
    blazorthonThe Mayan's long count calender doesn't have leap days. If you account for this discrepancy, it ended several years ago. Besides, the Mayans never said that the world would end at the end of their calender, that was a load of BS.

    Actually the current Bak'tun of the Mayan calendar will end on 21st December of 2012. The Mayan calendar, is based on the number of days as passed since the beginning of the calendar. There is no certainty about the exact date of this beginning but most commonly accepted date is 11 of August of 3113 BCE on the Gregorian calendar. A Bak'tun is equivalent to 144,000 days, so when the 13th Bak'tun begins, 1,872,000 days have passed since the calendar's beginning. If you add this amount of days to the calendar's beginning you get 21st of December of 2012. I'm not implying that the world is going to end or anything. A Bak'tun is almost 400 years, and since the world survived 12 other Bak'tun changes I infer it's going to survive this one.

    Also Another mistake is that the Mayan calendar is going to end, but it isn't. After the Mayan year (Tun), we have the Ka'tun (20 Tun) and the Bak'tun (20 Ka'tun). Each Mayan calendar unit represents 20 units of the one that came before (with the exception of the Tun that is 18 Uinal and the Kin that it's the smallest unit of the calendar and represents a day). After the we hare still three more other units. The calendar will eventually end at the 20th Alautun. If there's a cataclysm associated with it, one this is certain, none of us will be there to see it since it's 1262460634 years from now.
  • 1 Hide
    Cazalan , September 15, 2012 6:24 PM
    If you stifle peaceful protest you only increase the chance of violent protest.

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 15, 2012 11:43 PM
    wayback machine
    duh
  • 3 Hide
    john_4 , September 16, 2012 12:57 PM
    And people wonder why there is such a movement to move all our stuff to the cloud.
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