Smacked with yet another subpoena, Twitter must submit an Occupy protestor's account information to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office -- unless the account holder can stop the order before Feb. 8.
The District Attorney's Office issued a subpoena for Malcolm Harris (at the Twitter handle @destructuremal) on Jan. 26.
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Harris is the managing editor for the blog The New Inquiry, which seeks to explore ideas through criticism and examination. He alleges via Twitter that the District Attorney's Office is only requesting three-and-a-half months of his account information because of a disorderly conduct violation he was slapped with during the Brooklyn Bridge protest and subsequent arrests
"I'm not sure why they've singled me out, but I'm not too worried," Harris told Mashable. "The charge against me is disorderly conduct, which is a violation, not even a misdemeanor, for blocking traffic, just like the other 700 people arrested. "
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Harris is due to appear in court for that violation on Feb. 29.
The District Attorney's Office declined to comment on this issue. Mashable also asked if the DA would subpoena Twitter for account information for the hundreds of other people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge during the protests. The office declined to comment.
It's not clear from the subpoena what specific information the District Attorney's Office is looking for. If Twitter does not hand over Harris' account information from Sept. 15, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2011 executives could serve one year in prison and face a (nominal for Twitter) $1,000 fine.
In his stream of tweets, Harris thanks Twitter for informing him of the request for his account information even though it says not to.
He tweeted, "Don't worry @twitter, when they ask how I got the subpoena, I'll just tell them a little birdy told me.".
Harris said that he hopes he can prevent the order from being carried out and send a message to protestors that it's safe to use Twitter for protests.
"But if we win, it's a sign to protesters that what they say online doesn't just belong to the government to use against them," he said.
Harris said he's pleased with the way Twitter has handled this issue.
"Twitter so far has been really great, actually. They broke the gag order at the bottom of the subpoena to send it to me, and have agreed pending a motion to quash it not to move forward on disclosure," Harris says. "Twitter could have just provided that information to the DA without telling me, and I may not have found out until my own words were being used against me in a court of law.
"I'm not usually one to hand out any sort of credit to social media giants, but they definitely saved me from a surprising trial."
A Twitter spokesperson Mashable reached out to declined to comment, but said, "to help users protect their rights, it's our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so. We outline this policy in our law enforcement guidelines."
Twitter's policies dictate that the company will comply with government-issued subpoenas but inform users before giving their information to the government, unless the request is accompanied by a statute or gag order to keep it quiet.
In December of last year, the Boston District Attorneys Office issued a subpoena for two Twitter accounts of alleged protestors. The Boston DA revealed its lack of knowledge about social media when it requested a user's name and handle, plus two hashtags. Twitter also informed those account holders of the request for information despite the fact that it was made private.
Earlier this month, the state of Texas issued a subpoena to Automattic, Inc., the creators of free blogging platform WordPress.com, to access an occupy supporter's blog and reveal the person's identity.
You can view all three subpoenas here: [Scribd account].
What do you think about the government issuing subpoenas to Twitter for user information? Tell us in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.