Wired.com is reporting that Twitter has surrendered an Occupy Wallstreet protestor’s data.
The case was being closely watched as the authorities increasingly monitor and move to access material posted on social networks. The development comes two months after the micro-blogging site reported that, for the first six months of the year, the authorities sought information on Twitter user accounts 679 times, and Twitter produced some or all of the information 75 percent of the time.
Twitter’s giving up the data is partially disturbing, but what is more problematic is the instrument being used to get at the data.
Warrantless searches of a suspect’s data is a prospect that should worry everyone. Yes it happens all the time, but it is seldom done with the explicit sanction of a judge. This is part of what makes the case so worrying.
Twitter’s attorney, told the court that “Twitter is being given a fundamentally unfair Hobson’s choice that is contrary to the core of our justice system of being compelled to either waive its right to appeal so that novel legal issues may be adjudicated on the merits, or being held in criminal and/or civil contempt.”(.pdf)
The judge has effectively said that his ruling supercedes any attempt to have the case tested at a higher level.