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ISPLA News: Social Media Decision of Note

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  • Peter Psarouthakis
    Defendant in Criminal Case Lacks Standing to Quash Twitter Records Subpoena People v. Harris, 2012 WL 1381238 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. April 20, 2012). In this case,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2012
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      Defendant in Criminal Case Lacks Standing to Quash Twitter Records Subpoena

      People v. Harris, 2012 WL 1381238 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. April 20, 2012). In this
      case, the defendant sought to quash a subpoena seeking information from his
      Twitter account following his arrest for disorderly conduct during an
      October 2011 Occupy Wall Street Protest. As part of its prosecution, the
      District Attorney's office sent a subpoena duces tecum to Twitter, seeking
      tweets posted during a specified timeline from the defendant's alleged
      Twitter account. The defendant sought to quash the subpoena in his own right
      or, alternatively, intervene in the proceedings to quash as an affected
      party. Reviewing the record, the court analogized the Twitter account
      information to the bank records of a customer's account, to which the
      customer lacks ownership, possession, and standing to challenge a subpoena.
      Analyzing the nature of a Twitter account-in which a user must agree to
      terms of service that grant Twitter the unfettered right to publicly post
      that user's information immediately-the court held that the defendant had no
      proprietary or privacy interest in its tweets and ultimately lacked
      standing. The court further denied the motion to intervene, holding the
      subpoena would not "prejudice the substantial rights" of the intervening
      party because the subpoena was sought to address defenses the DA anticipated
      from the defendant. Finally, the court analyzed the subpoena under the
      Stored Communications Act (SCA), and found the subpoena adhered to all of
      the SCA's provisions for disclosure from a service provider of electronic
      communications.

      The above case summary was furnished to ISPLA on May 22 from Kroll Ontrack
      and is not intended as legal advice. It should be of special interest not
      only to investigative and security professionals in New York, but
      particularly those with cases involving social media issues.

      Bruce Hulme
      ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
      <http://www.ispla.org/> www.ISPLA.org


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