Twitter is contesting an order to hand over one of its member's tweets for use in a court case against him. The social networking site is arguing in a New York State courtroom that tweets remain the property of its authors, not Twitter.
Twitter's motion was prompted by a subpoena ordering Twitter to disclose user information on Malcolm Harris, a New York-based writer who was arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest in October 2011. Harris is accused of disorderly behavior during a march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Prosecutors want to use his tweets as evidence that he was "well aware of police instructions" not to block traffic.
The American Civil Liberties Union hailed Twitter's dispute:
"One potential problem for free speech on the Internet is that, for almost all of us, we need to rely on Internet companies," wrote ACLU senior staff attorney Aden Fine in a blog post. "And while the government is bound by the First Amendment, the First Amendment may not always prevent private companies from restricting our free speech rights."