Twitter Hands Over Occupy Tweets to New York Judge

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Common Dreams

Twitter Hands Over Occupy Tweets to New York Judge

by
Common Dreams staff

Protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge during Occupy Wall Street protest in October 2011. (Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

Twitter was forced to hand over Occupy protester tweets to a New York criminal judge on Friday, following an ongoing battle between prosecutors and the social media site over the privacy of the data.

The tweets in question were posted by Occupy protestor Malcolm Harris, one of many arrested during a mass protest on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011. Harris has been on trial following charges from the protest.

Harris argues that police intentionally led protesters onto the bridge's roadway and proceeded to arrest him for obstructing traffic. Manhattan district attorney's office believe they can use the tweets as evidence that Harris intentionally broke the law.

A New York Judge ruled on Tuesday that Twitter must produce Harris' Tweets by today or face fines. The company's lawyers made one final plea in court Friday, but the judge refused.

Twitter had originally argued that releasing Harris' posts would violate fourth amendment privacy rights.

The ruling is a substantial attack on constitutional rights, according to the ACLU, as the information is being collected without a previously required search warrant, which requires probable cause.

Harris' lawyer, Martin Stolar, said the decision by Twitter to hand over the messages today "certainly doesn't help out the case."

"I assume Twitter made a business decision, that they did not want to go into contempt. I would think they would be better off making a business decision to stick up for the fundamental privacy rights of their customers," he stated.

Stolar said Friday he would again appeal the use of the tweets in the case.

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