Twitter today informed user @destructuremal that the State of New York had issued a subpoena for his account information. The account holder, Malcolm Harris of New York City, is an Occupy Wall Street activist who has been involved in movement organizing since at least September 2011.
Read more on PrivacySOS.
The subpoena says:
TWITTER IS DIRECTED not to disclose the existence of this subpoena to any party. Such disclosure would impede the investigation being conducted and interfere with the enforcement of law.
So exactly who/what authority is directing Twitter not to disclose? Does such “direction” have the force of a court order gagging Twitter? It would seem that it doesn’t but I would love to hear from some lawyers about this “direction” and its legal authority to compel nondisclosure.
According to information in the docket for this case, the incident and arrest by NYPD (Arrest #:M11685086) occurred on October 1, 2011 at 16:20.
Under “charges,” the docket shows:
|PL 240.20 05
|Violation, 1 count, Not an arrest charge, Arraignment charge
Description Dis/con: obstructing Traff
The next court appearance for Mr. Harris is scheduled for February 29, 2012. He was assigned legal representation by Legal Aid.
So for obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic a D.A. can demand Twitter produce a user’s tweets and user account information such as e-mail addresses? Seriously? How is this not an abuse of power?
Update Feb-1: Subsequent media coverage indicates that Harris is represented by Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild.