Twitter relinquished Occupy Wall Street protester Malcolm Harris’s tweets to Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino on Friday, after months of fighting a subpoena for three months of data.
The tweets will remain under seal until a decision is reached at an Article 78 appeal hearing on Sept. 21.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office says Twitter, as a company, owns all user-generated content. With the subpoena order, Twitter had to surrender Harris’s tweets by Friday’s deadline to avoid facing contempt charges and substantial fines.
Harris was one of the 700 Occupy Wall Street protestors arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1, 2011, when bout 2,000 protestors attempted to cross the bridge after marching uptown from the group’s home base at Zuccotti Park.
The 23-year-old managing editor at The New Inquiry is facing a disorderly conduct charge.
He reacted on Twitter Friday morning.
So Twitter handed over a pile of my tweets that’ll stay sealed pending a hearing on the 21st. Bummer.
— Malcolm Harris (@BigMeanInternet) September 14, 2012
Harris says he’s been fighting the subpoena for months.
“I’m disappointed that Twitter has decided to hand over my Tweets, but I still have hopes the courts will make the right decision before the information gets handed over to the prosecutors,” Harris told Mashable in an email.
Prosecutors believe Harris’s tweets will prove he was fully aware of police orders to keep off the bridge’s roadway during the sit-in, which stopped eastbound traffic for several hours.
Twitter openly challenged the U.S. subpoena in May, fighting to safeguard user data. Twitter’s legal team affirmed users “own” their individually generated content, according to the BBC.
In July, the U.S. judge determined Twitter users expressing themselves on the public microblogging platform do not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The judge aligned tweeting publicly with screaming out the window.
Harris’s trial will begin in December, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Do you think the court order violates the Occupy Wall Street protestor’s freedom of speech or should court systems have the right to use individual’s public social media content in court? Tell us in the comments.