Twitter fights court order to give user data to police without a warrant

Twitter fights court order to give user data to police without a warrant

Twitter file a motion requesting that the New York state court quash an order that it turn over personal data on one of its users, an Occupy Wall Street protester who was arrested for disorderly conduct last year during a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge.

In late January, New York prosecutors served Twitter with a subpoena demanding that the social network hand over data on Malcolm Harris, the arrested protester. The prosecutors demanded Twitter give them both Harris’s email address, as well as all his tweets during a three-month period surrounding his arrest — including deleted tweets.

New York criminal court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr ruled last month that police could subpoena tweets without the need for a search warrant because, according to Sciarrino, tweets are not actually the property of the person who posted them. Instead, he wrote, “Twitter’s license to use the defendant’s Tweets means that the Tweets the defendant posted were not his.” Because of this, Harris’s motion to quash the subpoena was denied.

In its motion, Twitter argues that Sciarrino’s ruling is based on fundamentally incorrect information. Twitter’s terms of service state that its users “retain [their] rights to any Content [they] submit, post or display on or through” Twitter.

“To hold otherwise imposes a new and overwhelming burden on Twitter to fight for its users’ right, since the Order deprives its users of the ability to fight for their own rights when faced with a subpoena from New York state,” writes Twitter in the motion (pdf).

Twitter also asserts that the Stored Communications Act gives users the ability to challenge subpoenas for account records.

If the court agrees with Twitter, that means prosecutors will be required to obtain a warrant before they can force Twitter to hand over Harris’s (or any other user’s) tweets and account information.

In a blog post, American Civil Liberties Union Staff Attorney Aden Fine heralded Twitter’s action as a victory for free speech online.

“This is a big deal,” writes Fine. “Law enforcement agencies — both the federal government and state and city entities — are becoming increasingly aggressive in their attempts to obtain information about what people are doing on the Internet. And while the individual Internet users can try to defend their rights in the rare circumstances in which they find out about the requests before their information is turned over, that may not be enough. Indeed, even though Twitter provided notice to the Twitter user in this particular case, and even though he was able to get an attorney to file a motion seeking to quash the subpoena, the court found that the Twitter user did not have legal ‘standing’ to challenge the D.A.’s subpoena.

“If Internet users cannot protect their own constitutional rights, the only hope is that Internet companies do so.”

Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.
Mobile

You can now message businesses straight through Google Maps

Google has been updating Maps with a ton of new features over the past few months, and now it's back with another one -- the ability for users to message businesses directly through the Maps app.
Apple

iPhone users are finding themselves randomly locked out of their Apple ID

According to posts on Reddit and Twitter, it looks like users on Reddit and Twitter having some issues with their Apple accounts. Specifically, it seems as though users are getting randomly locked out of their Apple IDs.
Web

Data stolen from HealthCare.gov includes partial SSNs and immigration status

Around 75,000 users have had their user data stolen from government site healthcare.gov, including information on their immigration status, whether they were pregnant, and partial social security numbers.
Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.
Smart Home

Facebook's Alexa-enabled video-calling devices begin shipping

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Social Media

Vine fans, your favorite video-looping app is coming back as Byte

Vine fans were left disappointed in 2017 when its owner, Twitter, pulled the plug on the video-looping app. But now one of its co-founders has promised that a new version of the app, called Byte, is coming soon.
News

Social media use increases depression and anxiety, experiment shows

A study has shown for the first time a causal link between social media use and lower rates of well-being. Students who limited their social media usage to 30 minutes a day showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."