Twitter resists US court’s demand for user’s tweets

Twitter is contesting a US court order that called on the micro-blogging site to hand over all the tweets (Message History) of one of its users.

The court in New York called on Twitter to release tweets written by an activist who took part in the Occupy Wall Street protests last year.dispuite

The micro-blogging service disagrees with the  judge’s ruling that messages are owned by the firm rather than its users.

The American Civil Liberties Union commended Twitter for defending the freedom of speech right.

“Twitter’s terms of service make absolutely clear that its users ‘own’ their own content. Our filing with the court reaffirms our steadfast commitment to defending those rights for our users.” Twitter’s lawyer, Ben Lee said.

The case centres around Malcolm Harris, managing editor of the New Inquiry website.

He was arrested on 1 October along with hundreds of other campaigners during a march across Brooklyn Bridge.

Prosecutors claim tweets by Mr Harris would reveal that he was “well aware of police instructions” ordering protesters not to block traffic.

Mr Harris’s lawyer had tried to block access to the postings, but a judge ruled that once the messages had been sent they became the property of Twitter, meaning the defendant was not protected by Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.

Twitter’s lawyers argued that the judge had misunderstood how the service worked, noting that the Stored Communications Act gave its members the right to challenge requests for information on their user history.

A media analyst said Twitter’s action also reflected its wider desire to avoid becoming caught up in litigation.

“Twitter, like any internet service provider, wants people who upload material to be responsible – it doesn’t want to be in a position where it has to review all of the tweets,” Benedict Evans from Enders Analysis said.

“It sees itself as being like an email provider and doesn’t want to have to worry about issues of copyright (and) libel about other matters relating to what people post.

“That said, it can’t totally avoid the issue. We have seen cases of US courts forcing email providers to hand over evidence, and Twitter has access to the data.”

-BBC news.

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