A New York judge has ordered Twitter to hand over tweets belonging to an Occupy Wall Street protester after the company fought back a warrant requesting those tweets.
The New York district attorney's office is building a case against Malcom Harris who is behind the @destructuremal Twitter account and asked Twitter for three months' worth of tweets, via a warrant.
Twitter alerted the user that tried to fight back. But he initially said he had no standing since the tweets belong to Twitter.
That's not really true, but in any case Twitter filed to quash the warrant
as well as the order that prevented Harris from fighting the request on his own.
However, the New York judge decided to have Twitter hand over the tweets arguing that, since the tweets were already public, they belonged to the public and not to Twitter or Harris.
There is a point to be made for this, the tweets were made public initially and everyone was welcomed to see them.
At the same time, if those tweets are public, why is the DA asking Twitter for them instead of just grabbing them from where they are. The answer is simple, those tweets are no longer public.
This creates an interesting question, is something that was initially made public but later removed still considered public after the fact?
That's what the judge seems to think, but his analogy, of someone yelling in a street, isn't the best. You overhearing someone saying something in the street and then a court asking you to repeat what you heard is not the same as asking Twitter to supply a copy of those tweets, more accurately it would be like asking his followers to remember what they read.
In any case, Twitter will need to provide the tweets, however, the judge said that this only applied to tweets from the last 180 days, the DA is going to need a warrant for the rest.