authorities increasingly attempt to obtain account information from twitter

by Tim Phillips

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. decided on Monday that Twitter must turn over an Occupy Wall Street protester’s tweets from a period of roughly three months. Judge Sciarrino will review the tweets and provide those portions that are relevant to a disorderly conduct prosecution to the District Attorney’s office. The prosecution resulted from an Occupy march on the Brooklyn Bridge last October.

Twitter righteously fought the DA’s office’s demand for the tweets. Yet prosecutors argued that the tweets could show whether the protester, online magazine editor Malcolm Harris, knew about police orders he allegedly ignored. The arrest was one of approximately 700 on October 1, 2011, which are the subject of a class action lawsuit still pending against the police.

Also on Monday, Twitter released its first Transparency Report, which listed the U.S. government as having requested user account information 679 times since January 1, more than in all of 2011. Twitter produced some or all of the requested information three-quarters of the time. “We notify affected users of requests for their account info,” the report says, “unless we’re prohibited by law.”