Twitter Contests Court Order to Release User's Data Without Warrant

Twitter Contests Court Order to Release User's Data Without Warrant
A judge erred when ruling a person does not own content he posts to the service, Twitter said
By Jeremy Kirk
News May 9th 2012

Twitter is contesting a court order requiring it to turn over private data on a user charged with disorderly conduct during the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York last year.

On Monday, the company filed a memorandum in New York's Criminal Court, asserting that users own their content and that it may be unconstitutional to request it without a warrant.

The closely-watched case involves Twitter user Malcolm Harris, who has been charged along with several hundred others for allegedly marching onto the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1.

Prosecutors want Harris' tweets between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31, 2011, in order to refute an "anticipated defense" that police led or escorted him onto the bridge's road, according to court documents.

Twitter was served with a subpoena on Jan. 26 ordering it to turn over the information, citing section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act. The Act requires a service provider to disclose certain kinds of electronic communications without a warrant.

Twitter told Harris of the subpoena on Jan. 30, and Harris filed a motion to quash it. A judge denied the motion on April 20, ruling that Twitter's privacy policy and terms of service mandate "that the tweets the defendant posted were not his" and that Harris did not have a "proprietary interest."