The court forced Twitter to hand over the data without a warrant
Twitter has finally handed over data about an Occupy Wall Street protester at the request of the judge, as expected. The case has been ongoing for several months and hasn't gained attention because of the matter at hand, the charges are minor, but over Twitter's involvement.In the last phase, the judge handed Twitter an ultimatum, either supply the data he requested or be forced to disclose its private financial details.
The judge threatened Twitter that it would held it in contempt if it didn't provide the data.
In order to determine an appropriate fine for contempt, he would need the financial data which are private since Twitter is a private company.
Financial records are one of the biggest secrets of any startup, especially in the tech world, and having them made public would be a major blow. The judge basically strong-armed Twitter into getting what he wanted.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter, while calling the situation it was put in "unfair" and "unjust," caved and provided the data.
Twitter wanted the judge to wait until the matter of whether the judge could ask for all the data without a warrant would be settled by an appeals court. The judge thought otherwise. A succinct history of the case is here.
"Putting Twitter between a rock (turn the data over without a warrant) and a hard place (be held in contempt of court and face a potentially expensive fine) before the complicated legal issues at stake have been resolved by the appeals court is a miscarriage of justice," the Electronic Frontier Foundation commented.
"This case was shaping up to be a constitutional showdown on a contested and unclear area of the law. Judges much higher up the judicial chain have been wrestling with the complicated issues brought about by the explosion of information turned over to third parties," it also said.