The City of New York is bringing criminal charges against a key member of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and as part of its case it has subpoenaed Twitter for more than 3 months of his communication.
Twitter is being called as a witness in the case against Malcolm Harris (@destructuremal). Harris was part of the Brooklyn Bridge protests during Occupy Wall Street, which saw masses occupy the bridge and clash with local authorities, leading to several dozen arrests – including Harris.
On January 26th, the City of New York issued a subpoena to Twitter which reads, in part:
“YOU ARE COMMANDED to appear before the CRIMINAL COURT of the County of New York, PART JURY 7, at the Criminal Court Building… as a witness in a criminal action prosecuted by the People of the State of New York…”
It demanded all of Harris’ tweets between September 15 and December 31 2011, as well as his email address and any other user information associated with his account. If Twitter does not comply, the company might be considered in contempt of court, which would see them slapped with a $1,000 fine and imprisonment for up to one year.
In typical Twitter fashion, the company alerted Harris about the subpoena for his information, and the Huffington Post reports that they have agreed not to hand over this data to the prosecutors until Harris’ attorney has filed a motion to quash the subpoena.
When asked about the situation, a Twitter spokesperson would not comment directly, only reiterating that their policy is “to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so.”