Twitter Stands Up For User Rights
In this age of technology Twitter is fast becoming the center of breaking news; a reporter’s Candy Land filled with interesting quotes from celebrities, political leaders and media personalities; a platform and a network for activism; and on the flip side, a tool for lawmakers in recovering information. One could say these multifaceted uses speak to how dynamic Twitter is, but the social media giant is tired of getting pulled in to unconstitutional behavior.
The LA Times reported yesterday that Twitter has refused to comply with a court order to divulge account information about one of its users. Malcolm Harris aka @destructuremal is being prosecuted behind a march across the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011. The New York District Attorney issued a subpoena for Harris’ tweets, which Twitter promptly motioned to “quash.” That same court order explicitly prevents the user from challenging the subpoena of his Twitter account contents.
“…the Order imposes an undue burden on Twitter by forcing it to violate federal law,” the motion states. “Specifically, the SCA has been held to violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to the extent it requires providers to disclose the content of communications in response to anything less than a search warrant…”
In plain English, according to Twitter’s Terms of Service, users remain in “possession” of their tweets. Without a search warrant, Harris’ tweets remain his own intellectual property of which Twitter has no right to release.
Senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Adam Fine weighed in on the situation on the ACLU blog.
“…it is so important to encourage those companies that we all increasingly rely on to do what they can to protect their customers’ free speech and privacy rights. And that is why it is so important that the public—and other companies—know when a company actually stands up for its users’ rights. Twitter did so here, and Twitter should be applauded for that. We hope that other companies will do the same thing. Our free speech rights may depend on it.”
We second that. Bravo, Twitter.