Twitter to court: “Let me google that for you”

By » Wed, May 9 2012
5363322570 bc9c6506a5 450x299 Twitter to court: Let me google that for you

That's Twitter on the right. (img by Zuhair Ahmad)


In the battle to fight online fishing expeditions by law enforcement officials there is little we can do individually to protect ourselves — which makes it all the more important for internet companies like Twitter and Google to fight back on our behalf.

That’s exactly what Twitter did when it filed a surprisingly feisty motion (.pdf) this week in New York City Criminal Court to quash a court order demanding that it hand over information to law enforcement about one of its account holders — an activist who participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests — as well as tweets that he allegedly posted to the account over a three-month period. The company stepped in with the motion after the account holder lost his own bid to quash the order.

In its motion to quash, Twitter pointed out to the judge that the order would essentially force the company to break the law by handing over data without a warrant. Twitter also took issue with the judge’s ruling that the account holder had no right to fight the order on his own behalf.

The company further dinged prosecutors by pointing out that they could have saved everyone the trouble of dealing with this in court if they had simply printed or downloaded the publicly available tweets themselves.

Score one for Twitter. But this story’s still got me wondering…. Can you use a service like Twitter and cover your tracks? And can you do it reasonably (i.e. without hijacking someone else’s phone or account or whatever)? I’m going to have to do some googling of my own.

UPDATE: A good video summary of the case:

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