Lawyers in Australia are watching with interest the outcome of a case in New York after a judge ruled that Twitter must release three months of data from the account of a user currently under prosecution for disorderly conduct.In the past Twitter has refused to supply any information about their service users, including in Australia where NSW Police have twice tried to obtain Twitter data.
The Wall Street Journal said that Twitter has been fighting against the release of the user’s information, claiming that to do so would violate the site’s terms of service. However the Judge has rejected their claim in a case where a US protester has been put on trial for alleged disorderly conduct during the Occupy Wall Street protests last year.
The district attorney’s office subpoenaed the protester’s tweets in January, arguing that those posts would disprove Harris’ expected defence, that he and other protesters were led onto the roadway by police.
The prosecutors sought to gain access to the posts, which were no longer publicly available, directly from Twitter, but the company rebuffed the attorneys and alerted Harris to their request. The American Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief contending that a search warrant was necessary to acquire such posts and that the person of interest should be able to challenge such a warrant in court.
The presiding judge, though, ruled that the tweets in question constituted public statements and should therefore be turned over. “What you give to the public,” wrote Judge Sciarrino in his decision “belongs to the public.”