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July 3—A New York Criminal Court judge has ordered popular social networking site Twitter to turn over tweets and account information of the Occupy Wall Street protesters who was arrested last October on the Brooklyn Bridge to prosecutors.
Judge Matthew Sciarrino, Jr. ruled that “if you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable explanation for privacy.” While acknowledging that such things as “a private email, a private direct message, a private chat” require a warrant for probable cause, Sciarrino declared tweets are “gifted to the world.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office subpoenaed the Twitter information of Malcolm Harris in January. According to the New York Law Journal, the prosecution wants to use this information to counter expected defense claims that police arrested protesters after leading them onto a non-pedestrian section of the bridge. They plan to argue that Harris understood instructions from officers not to block traffic, but did so anyway.
Sciarrino previously ruled in April that Harris had no legal standing to attempt to quash his subpoena, as material posted on Twitter belongs to the site and not to him. The site then filed suit.
The site, which was famously used by Iranian protestors in 2009, is “disappointed” in the ruling. “Twitter’s terms of service have long made it absolutely clear that its users ‘own’ their content,” spokesman Carolyn Penner said in a statement. “We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights.” The ruling comes following Twitter’s first “Transparency Report,” releasing information on “government requests received for user information, government requests received to withhold content, and DMCA takedown notices received from copyright holders.”