Faced With Financial Penalty, Twitter Hands Over Protestor’s Tweets

Looks like we spoke too soon – Twitter IS backing down and handing over Malcom Harris’ tweets to prosecutors.

After being faced with potentially stiff fines for noncompliance, Twitter is said to have handed over the information today.

If you depend on online anonymity in any way, now would be the time to worry.

After ticking off a New York State Supreme Court Judge, it appears Twitter has decided to take a step back and reexamine its options.

The Washington Post reports that “Twitter’s lawyer, Terryl Brown, called the options it faced — waiving its right to appeal or being in held in contempt of court — “unfair” and “unjust,” though ultimately Brown handed the judge a thick white envelope full of Harris’ information.”

Police said demonstrators ignored warnings to stay on a pedestrian path. Harris, an editor for an online culture magazine, and others say they thought they had police permission to go on the roadway.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office said Harris’ messages could show whether he was aware of the police orders he’s charged with disregarding during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge.

This result is likely welcome news to the folks at The Daily Telegraph in Sydney who feel Twitter’s resistance to (or, as they frame it, disregard for) cooperating with authorities is precisely what makes vicious trolling possible online.

So what will happen now? This sets some sort of precedent for future Twitter subpoenas, no doubt (legal experts are welcome to weigh in)!

And what do you think Harris’ tweets will reveal? And finally – does this situation worry you? If you value anonymity online, it should!

(Man with envelope image from Shutterstock) 

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