Photo: Facebook/Matthew Sciarrino
A New York judge that fancies himself a social media expert has ruled that cops have the right to search through the Twitter account of a person who helped organise a protest.The protest was tied to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Malcolm Harris was one of hundreds charged with disrupting traffic thanks to a protest on the Brooklyn Bridge last summer. The cops wanted access to Harris’s Twitter account to help make their case. They could see public tweets, but subpoenaed Twitter to turn over private stuff, too, like location information, reports Jeff John Roberts on Gigaom.
Harris tried to get the subpoena squashed. But in April, the judge ruled that Tweets belong to Twitter so Harris had no right to stop the subpoena. Twitter protested. Tweets belong to the tweeter, Twitter says, Sure enough its terms of service clearly state: “You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services.”
So Twitter tried to get the subpoena squashed. Last week, the judge said no to that, too.
This judge apparently loves social media. He peppered his earlier ruling with Twitter hashtags like #quash and #denied. In 2009, he was reportedly disciplined after lawyers complained that he was friending them on Facebook, apparently a no-no in the legal world, according to the New York Post.
Too bad he doesn’t love privacy as much. The American Civil Liberties Union is so bugged by these rulings it weighed in with a brief and then condemned the ruling:
“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.”