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Judge Rules Tweets Are Permissible In Court

This Monday saw a New York judge rule that warrants are not needed in order to subpoena your account, given that the information is shared publically via a third-party service.

Occupy Wall Street protestor Malcolm Harris found this out the hard way, after Twitter informed him of this news earlier this year that his account had been subpoenaed. Naturally, he tried to block the subpoena - referring to the way in which it was delivered to the microblogging site, by way of fax to the company's San Francisco headquarters.

This comes after being arrested last year during a mass protest on the Brooklyn Bridge. Facing up to 15 days in prison, Harris pleaded not guilty to the charge.

"New York courts have yet to specifically address whether a criminal defendant has standing to quash a subpoena issued to a third-party online social networking service seeking to obtain the defendant's user information and postings," said Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr.

"Nonetheless, an analogy may be drawn to the bank record cases where courts have consistently held that an individual has no right to challenge a subpoena issued against the third-party bank."

"Twitter's license to use the defendant's tweets means that the tweets the defendant posted were not his," the judge added.

This resulted in Sciarrino denying Harris' bid to quash the subpoena - with the judge showing some slight Twitter humour by use of hashtags:

"The New York County District Attorney's Office seeks to obtain the #Twitter records of @destructuremal using a #subpoena. The defendant is alleged to have participated in a #OWS protest march on October 1, 2011. The defendant, Malcolm Harris, along with several hundred other protesters, were charged with Disorderly Conduct after allegedly marching on to the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. The defendant moved to #quash that subpoena. That motion is #denied."

Source: Mashable (opens in new tab)

Mariel Norton is a self-confessed girly geek with a penchant for technology, and previously wrote for ITProPortal, with experience on TheNextWeb, UKFast, WorldRemit, Virgin Media, Google, and more.