NEW YORK, July 19 (Reuters) - Twitter is appealing a judge's
decision requiring the social media company to turn over an
Occupy Wall Street protester's tweets and account information to
In June, Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino ruled that
releasing Malcolm Harris's tweets would not violate his privacy,
since he had posted them on a public website.
Harris, a Brooklyn-based writer, was arrested with hundreds
of other Occupy members during a mass march across the Brooklyn
Bridge last fall.
The case has focused attention on a number of murky legal questions surrounding the use of social media, including whether
users own the content they post publicly and whether companies
like Twitter can prevent authorities from using that information
to prosecute social media users.
Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office
have been seeking Harris's tweets from September to December,
saying the posts demonstrate he knew police had ordered
protesters not to walk on the bridge's roadway.
Defense lawyers for many of the defendants have asserted
that police appeared to lead them onto the bridge before
suddenly arresting them.
Sciarrino's June ruling marked the second time in three
months that the judge rejected attempts to quash the subpoena.
He previously denied a motion from Harris, ruling that he lacked
standing to fight the subpoena because the information belonged
In a tweet Thursday, Benjamin Lee, Twitter's legal counsel,
said the company was appealing the June ruling because the
decision "doesn't strike the right balance between the rights of
users and the interests of law enforcement."
Twitter has been willing in the past to challenge the
government when it seeks information from its users. The
company's policy calls for it to inform users when their tweets
are being subpoenaed by law enforcement.
The Manhattan district attorney's office did not immediately
comment. A call to one of Twitter's lawyers was not immediately
The case is People v. Harris, Criminal Court of the City of
New York, No. 2011NY080152.
For the prosecution: Assistant District Attorney Lee
For Twitter: Karl Sleight of Harris Beach; John Roche of
For Harris: Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax)
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