Judge Inexplicably Adds #Hashtags To Twitter Ruling

An Occupy Wall Street protester was trying to prevent prosecutors from obtaining his tweets, but his request was denied – by a #hashtag happy judge.

Malcolm Harris was arrested on October 1 while marching over the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Prosecutors sought to subpoena more than three months worth of Harris’ tweets so they could use them to challenge Harris’ “anticipated defense” that police officers led protesters onto the bridge before arresting them.

Police have said that the demonstrators were arrested for blocking traffic on the bridge.

Reuters tells us that criminal court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr., who is overseeing a special courtroom dedicated to handling nearly 2,000 Occupy-related cases, ruled against Harris, saying he did not have standing to challenge the subpoena.

The judge compared Harris to a bank account holder who by law cannot challenge a subpoena of his records served on his bank.

“Twitter’s license to use the defendant’s Tweets means that the Tweets the defendant posted were not his,” the judge wrote in a decision filed Friday.

Buzzfeed was able to obtain a copy of the ruling earlier today – and you really have to see it to believe it:


What was he thinking? One witty commenter on the Buzzfeed piece had this to offer:


Before you ask: Yes, Judge Sciarrino is also on Twitter, but his tweets are protected. No doubt this is because he learned his lesson from the “friending” incident he had on Facebook a few years ago (he was ‘friending’ lawyers scheduled to appear before him).

But on a serious note, this ruling does pose a pretty serious threat to online privacy. And Twitter isn’t going to protect you. Twitter’s policy is to comply with U.S. warrants and subpoenas, although the actual information they store and how long they store it seems a bit vague.

Could your tweets ever be used against you in court?

(Ask Why image from Shutterstock)

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