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UK Council Forces Twitter To Divulge Names

South Tyneside council has forced Twitter to reveal details of users on the microblogging website by appealing to a US Court; the council wanted to find out the identify of a Twitter user who criticised some of the council's employees.

The case could set a precedence for companies, entities and individuals trying to unearth the identity of any Twitter user; this, in turn could leave anonymous posters vulnerable to lawsuits.

This is the first time that Twitter has had to yield to legal pressure to help third parties identify anonymous users; this means that celebrities that have been affected by leaks on Twitter could potentially go after Twitter users who revealed details of their "super injunctions".

The council went all the way to the Californian courts in a process that is likely to cost UK taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds, an added blow to a council that is expected to be hit harder than any other council after the government spending review.

Ahmed Khan, a South Tyneside councillor, who has been identified as being the target of the council's investigation, told the Guardian (opens in new tab) that the council acted in an "Orwellian" move.

He pointed out that he will have to fly to California and get a lawyer at his own expense in order to defend his case, whereas the council has used public money to track down the identity of the whistleblowers.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.