Twitter joined the battle to keep New York's District Attorney out of Occupy protestor Malcolm Harris's tweets on Thursday in what might be a landmark move. As The Atlantic Wire's Adam Martin noted back in February, the New York DA's office subpoenaed "any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011-12/31/2011" from Harris' Twitter account. Harris is still fighting a disorderly conduct charge from the big march on the Brooklyn Bridge last year and his motion to quash the subpoena failed two weeks ago. Now, according to the ACLU, Twitter has filed a motion of its own to quash the court order.
This case isn't really about Harris protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge: It's about the limits of privacy on the Internet, and there's hardly any precedent to dictate what a court can and can't do when it comes to user data on sites like Twitter. In the decision against Harris' motion two weeks ago, Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. said that "an analogy may be drawn to the bank record cases where courts have consistently held that an individual has no right to challenge a subpoena issued against the third-party bank." Harris's lawyer, Martin Stolar, however, disagrees since tweet data includes a large amount of aggregate information about a person like his location, speech, and interactions with others.