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Twitter Fights Back to Protect ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protestor

• Kim Zetter via

Twitter is standing firm against a court order to turn over user data related to an Occupy Wall Street protestor.

The social media giant filed an appeal on Monday asking for a New York appeals court to reconsider earlier rulings ordering the social network giant to give the government tweets and account information on two Twitter accounts believed to have been used by Malcolm Harris. That lower court ruling came even though the government did not obtain a warrant to get the data. The lower court had also denied Harris the right to challenge the government request for data on his own, which Twitter asked the appeals court to reconsider.

In its appeal (.pdf), Twitter wrote that Harris’s tweets are protected by the Fourth Amendment “because the government admits that it cannot publicly access them, thus establishing that Defendant maintains a reasonable expectation of privacy in his communications.” The Twitter accounts in question have been closed and are no longer publicly available.

But even if Harris’s tweets were publicly available, Twitter points out that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “public information which would allow law enforcement to draw mere inferences about a citizen’s thoughts and associations are entitled to Constitutional protection, thus establishing that a citizen’s substantive communications are certainly entitled to the same protection.”


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