According to the Wall Street Journal, in New York City, Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street protester, was arrested at a protest on the Brooklyn Bridge where over 700 people were arrested. He was charged with tweeting false information to incite the protesters to show up. Harris stated that he deleted some tweets in order to preserve his most important ones should he exceed his capacity. The District Attorney subpoenaed Twitter, seeking information about Harris’ Twitter account, and Twitter vigorously objected to and fought the subpoena. Both Twitter and Harris believe that it is the users, not Twitter, who are responsible for their posts, and Twitter should not have to respond. Judge Sciarrino ordered Twitter to respond to the subpoena. Harris filed a separate lawsuit claiming that Judge Sciarrino’s order was improper, and a ruling is expected on that suit on September 21. In the meantime, Judge Sciarrino threatened to find Twitter in contempt if they did not respond. Twitter responded by submitting to the court, under seal, the information that had been subpoenaed, including messages and IP addresses. Judge Sciarrino has stated that he will keep the contents sealed until the ruling on September 21. If no stay is issued in the other lawsuit, Judge Sciarrino "will spend my birthday, Sept. 22, reviewing the documents."
This case is being watched around the country, by the providers of Social Media sites who are very concerned about the privacy of their users. It is important to keep in mind that this is a criminal case, and the outcome most likely will not have an impact on civil cases. This is the first time that a court has ordered the production of this type of information, not through a search warrant, but rather through a proscutor's subpoena. However, with more and more criminal agencies issuing subpoenas to SM sites, this case, after the appellate process is over, will help provide the roadmap for how SM hosts will respond