Twitter continues Occupy Wall Street legal battle

Twitter is appealing a ruling requiring the company to hand over data it holds on Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris.

Mar 3, 2020, 4:24 am*



Kris Holt

Nobody backs Twitter into a corner.

Twitter’s come out fighting to defend one of its users in a court case related to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Twitter’s litigation head Ben Lee said in a tweet Thursday that the company is appealing a ruling requiring the company to hand over data it holds on protester Malcolm Harris.

Harris was among hundreds of people arrested during a Brooklyn Bridge demonstration in October and faces up to 15 days in prison for a disorderly conduct charge. He pleaded not guilty.

Earlier this month, New York County Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. ordered Twitter to hand over tweets sent by Harris. Prosecutors say those tweets will help determine if Harris knew about police orders he’s been accused of ignoring. Twitter said at the time it was considering its next move.

“At Twitter, we are committed to fighting for our users,” the appeal, obtained by AllThingsD, stated. “Accordingly, we are appealing this decision which, in our view, doesn’t strike the right balance between the rights of our users and the interests of law enforcement.”

Twitter previously attempted to quash a district attorney’s attempt to snag the tweets, citing First Amendment protections.

While it’s somewhat encouraging to see Twitter stand up for its members, AllThingsD’s Mike Issac raises an interesting point about future implications for the company. In the first half of this year, Twitter received 849 requests for information on users.

It’d be incredibly difficult for Twitter to fight every case in which an individual’s tweets are subpoenaed. There’s also the issue of going to bat for members in territories where free speech protections are perhaps not as strong as they are in the U.S.

Still, this is one fight that looks like it’s going a few more rounds.

Photo by Sue Waters

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*First Published: Jul 19, 2012, 3:37 pm