Should Prosecutors Be Able to Subpoena Tweets?

A New York judge dismisses a Occupy Wall Street protester's challenge to quash a subpoena for his Twitter account

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New York Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. ruled Monday that prosecutors could subpoena tweets, dismissing a challenge to quash the subpoena by Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street protester charged with disorderly conduct for a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge. "That motion is #denied," said Sciarrino in his ruling, which argued by using Twitter, Harris granted license of  his Tweets to the social media service as part of the Terms agreement. "The @destructuremal [Harris's Twitter handle] account's Tweets were, by definition public," as Twitter's privacy policy made clear, the judge said.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Occupy Wall Street.]

Twitter's legal department had notified Harris when the Manhattan District Attorney initailly subpoenaed his account, and said it would not comply while Harris prepared his challenge.  Harris's attorney, Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild, will seek a motion to reargue the case, he said. "I think the judge is incorrect in his understanding of the law."  

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