Twitter Helps Feds With Transparency

Aliya Sternstein | NextGov | July 3, 2012

With a wink and a nod to the Independence Day holiday, Twitter started posting the number of requests for user information from the U.S. government and other nations. America ranks No. 1, demanding access to 948 user accounts -- a point not lost on the Twitterverse, which decried a Monday court win by government prosecutors in a case over retrieving certain Occupy Wall Street tweets.

Twitter had tried to quash a New York County District Attorney’s Office subpoena for all tweets from protester Malcolm Harris posted between Sept. 15, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2011, as evidence in a criminal case. Harris stands accused of disorderly conduct for marching on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge in October. A New York City judge on July 2 ruled Twitter must hand over much of the data.

A follower of tweets by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group that praised Twitter’s surveillance honor roll, linked to news of the Harris verdict and messaged the organization: “@EFF but @Twitter is folding here.”

Not yet, says the company. “We are disappointed in the judge's decision and are considering our options,” a Twitter spokeswoman told the Associated Press/NBC New York. “Twitter's Terms of Service have long made it absolutely clear that its users own their content. We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights."...