Twitter hands over user info for criminal investigation

by Don Reisinger  March 2, 2012 9:29 AM PST

The social network says it turned over information for a single user involved in a case indirectly related to Occupy Boston, though the details of the inquiry have not been disclosed.

Twitter has finally handed over user information for an ongoing criminal investigation indirectly related to an Occupy Boston protest.

Speaking to the Boston Globe in a statement published yesterday, Twitter spokesman Matt Graves said that the company has "provided information on a single user." That user is @pOisAnON, who the police say, is associated with the name "Guido Fawkes," Graves told the Globe.

The handover ends a bitter battle between Boston law enforcement and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over whether the information should have been shared for the investigation. Law enforcement officials have argued that the data Twitter could provide--namely, IP address information associated with the account--is an integral component in their ongoing investigation. The ACLU, however, told the Globe that sharing the information is a violation of the user's First Amendment rights.

Back in December, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office requested IP address information from Twitter. The office wanted information about the aforementioned user, as well as @OccupyBoston. The district attorney's office also requested information on "Guido Fawkes" and Twitter hashtags, #BostonPD and #d0xcak3.

Although the district attorney asked Twitter to not share the request, it did so with @pOisAnON. The move, Graves said at the time, was in accordance with its privacy policy, which forces Twitter to inform users whenever requests are made for their information. Soon after, @pOisAnON posted the document on Scribd and made it clear he or she was ready for a fight.

"Subpoenas will not shake me," @pOisAnON said at the time. "So do whatever you think you can to try and stop Anonymous, but you will learn fast. One of us is not nearly as harsh as all of us. You cannot arrest an idea. You cannot subpoena a hashtag."

Despite the request coming down in December, Twitter did not hand over @pOisAnON's information, and a court battle between the ACLU and the Suffolk County district attorney erupted. Last week, Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre ruled in favor of the attorney's office and required Twitter to hand over the information this week, according to the Globe.

Neither Twitter nor the attorney's office have disclosed exactly what the social network turned over. As of this writing, however, @pOisAnON's account is suspended. It should also be noted that representative for the district attorney told the Globe that "the relationship between this investigation and Occupy Boston is tangential at best."

Twitter did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on the Globe's story.
Originally posted at The Digital Home


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