Privacy SOS

Manhattan DA drops subpoena to Twitter for info on #ows activist

Back on March 12, we wrote here about yet another subpoena to Twitter for information about an Occupy Wall Street activist, Jeff Rae. Both he and another target, Malcolm Harris, challenged the subpoenas in court and were represented by the National Lawyers Guild.

Today we learn that the Manhattan DA has dropped its subpoena for information on Rae.

Twitter's policy on these subpoenas is a good one. The company informs users when it receives a subpoena as long as disclosure doesn't break the law, which is the case with these administrative subpoenas. It then gives the target the opportunity to challenge the subpoena in court, which both Harris and Rae — as well as our client, @p0isAn0n — did. The company then waits for the courts to settle the matter before disclosing any information on its users.

Apparently the DA didn't want to face a judge in Rae's case, and thus dropped the matter. We are waiting on word about Harris' subpoena and will update this blog when we hear news on that front.

But let's not get it twisted: even though Twitter maintains a good disclosure policy regarding subpoenas, the company isn't making all the right decisions. Why does Twitter maintain user logs containing IP information? Is this necessary for its business model?

Twitter should adopt a no logs policy. Then these subpoenas would be irrelevant, and we'd all be able to breath a sigh of relief, knowing that our Twitter communications would be closer to anonymous online speech. 

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.