Twitter Appeals Court Decision Against Occupy Wall Street Protester Malcolm Harris

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Twitter just filed its appeal against a New York court decision requiring the company to turn over tweets and account information for Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris, who is being prosecuted for allegations of disorderly conduct.

According to Twitter’s brief, the New York County District Attorney’s office subpoenaed Twitter earlier this year for information related to two of Harris’ accounts, @destructuremal and @getsworse. The requests came at different times for the two accounts, and cover slightly different information, but in the case of @getsworse, they include all public tweets, as well as “[t]he following subscriber information: name; address; records of session times and durations; length of service (including creation date); types of service utilized; telephone or instrument number or any other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address.”

Harris and Twitter tried to quash the subpoenas, but the court ruled against both of them, with Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr. writing, “If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Twitter had already declared its intention to appeal, but now you can actually read the brief, which is embedded below. The arguments here are a bit convoluted — at this point, Twitter isn’t just arguing about whether the subpoena should be blocked, but also whether Harris has the legal standing to challenge the subpoena in the first place. (Twitter says yes, he does.) The company also argues that a user’s tweets are protected under the Fourth Amendment, and that the subpoenas were not “sufficiently circumscribed” under New York law.

Along with announcing the appeal, Twitter attorney Benjamin Lee tweeted:

Twitter users own their Tweets. They have a right to fight invalid government requests, and we continue to stand with them in that fight.

The American Civil Liberties Union (a group that I donate to) says it will be filing its own brief later today.

Brief Harris Appellateterm