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Twitter has been forced to hand over the personal details of a British user in a libel battle that could have huge implications for free speech on the web.
The social network has passed the name, email address and telephone number of a south Tyneside councillor accused of libelling the local authority via a series of anonymous Twitter accounts. South Tyneside council took the legal fight to the superior court of California, which ordered Twitter, based in San Francisco, to hand over the user's private details.
It is believed to be the first time Twitter has bowed to legal pressure to identify anonymous users and comes amid a huge row over privacy and free speech online.
talk about an uphill legal battle that if successful becomes an assault on free speech.
The Guardian also understands that Google and Wordpress appear to have handed over user information related to the South Tyneside case last year.
I also didn't realize UK law applied to US based actions
Surely, libel is libel, whatever media is used.
Just hours after the US based company caved into a legal challenge and agreed to release the personal details of an anonymous British blogger, a user taunted the authorities by posting the most detailed list of gagging orders yet.
But not all of the information appeared to be accurate prompting further fears that innocent people were being unfairly tainted because of the rash of secrecy orders being granted.
And since when did the US start enforcing laws on US companies, for stuff that's completely UK based?
What especially stinks about this case, is that the individuals involved have apparently used large sums of taxpayer's money to take legal action.
The council in question, Tyneside, took the case to the legal superior court of California, which in turn issued a subpoena to Twitter on April 14th 2011.
On April 15th Khan was notified by Twitter of the subpoena and was asked if he wanted to dispute it in court. He declined. On May 5th, Twitter released the details.
An enormously significant part of this story, missed by The Telegraph’s original article, is that the user chose not to fight the order in court.
In summary, this is NOT a landmark case marking the end of free speech online. It is only a landmark of any sort in that it’s the first time Twitter has actually released user info without a user contesting.
I'm not sure whether being allowed to anonymously post your thoughts online is a good thing
This news does one thing however, it reinforces the notion that you should NEVER use your real information online, EVER, because you just never know who's going to go after it.
it's only the most savvy that may be able to satisfactorily obfuscate their identity
Many web veterans are accustomed to general anonymity being available, forums and chatrooms have always used nicknames
Those people should now consider that Twitter itself will not oppose an application to reveal their personal details.
The issue is not about Twitter
What you, and a lot of the knee-jerkers that tend to respond with cynicism to these issues, are saying reduces essentially to a lack of faith in a court.
The radical examples of Iran et al aren't relevant at all
Sometimes the best course of action is to keep your mouth shut
It's not rocket science to avoid getting easily caught, what a dummy!