In a case that’s not quite getting the same level of attention as the WikiLeaks Twitter fiasco, a UK politician’s two Twitter accounts have been ordered to be handed over to his city council. He is suspected of being a mole, acting as an anonymous and controversial blogger.
The UK’s South Tyneside Council has apparently been trying to unmask “Mr. Monkey”, an anonymous blogger who some say has exposed what goes on behind closed doors, but the council claims reported false accusations.
They think they’ve found Mr. Monkey in the deputy leader of the Independent Alliance, councillor Ahmed Khan.
The council has submitted a subpoena to Twitter requiring that Khan’s personal details attached to his two Twitter accounts (one personal, one public). No word yet on whether Twitter will comply or fight this subpoena, but in all likelihood they’ll comply: they only went public with the WikiLeaks subpoena because it was issued in secret and their policy includes informing users of any government requests for their information.
Councillor Khan is quite obviously against the council getting a hold of his Twitter accounts, saying that,
“This not only breaches my human rights, but the human rights of anyone who has ever sent me a message on Twitter. A number of whistleblowers have sent me private messages on the site, exposing any wrongdoing in the council, and the authority knows this. I cannot help wondering whether this legal action is an attempt to expose council whistleblowers, rather than unmask an anonymous blogger.”
The subpoena stems from a complaint lodged in 2009 that the defendant, Mr. Khan, had posted “false and defamatory statements” about Councillor Ian Malcom (notably, and falsely, claiming that he had rigged a ballot) on a blog, as Mr. Monkey.
We’ll keep our eye on this one and see whether Twitter hands over Khan’s information without a fight.