Earlier this week, Twitter appealed a New York state judge’s ruling that required the company to produce an Occupy Wall Street protestor’s tweets, email address, and certain subscriber information.  The trial court judge had reasoned that the public nature of Twitter meant that the defendant lacked privacy interests in his tweets and that the government’s

Twitter has announced that it will appeal a New York state judge’s ruling that the company must hand over an Occupy Wall Street protestor’s tweets to the Manhattan district attorney.  The defendant was charged with disorderly conduct for his participation in a protest march in October 1, 2011.  Following that incident, the district attorney subpoenaed Twitter for the defendant’s tweets over several months in the fall of 2011.  The defendant unsuccessfully challenged the subpoena in trial court, and Twitter is taking up the appeal.    

The trial court judge found that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to the government’s subpoena.  The defendant had no privacy interests in his tweets, the judge held, because of the public nature of the Twitter platform.  Pointing out that the “very nature and purpose of Twitter” is to share messages with a broad online audience, the judge concluded that the “defendant’s contention that he has privacy interests in his Tweets . . . [is] without merit.”

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