TLP: What, You Mean Those @names on Twitter Aren't Real?
As we have seen, people who leave anonymous comments on the Web are being targeted by a Louisiana politician who got his feelings hurt. Kind of a weak case, but knock yourself out. Now, the Pennsylvania attorney general wants Twitter to tell him the names of the people who were mean to him.
A grand jury subpoena issued on May 6 ordered Twitter to disclose the identities of “casablancapa” and “bfbarbie,” two users who criticized the Pennsylvania attorney general, Tom Corbett.Twitter lawyer Timothy Yip (does he have to file his motions in 140 characters or less?) said the company did not comply with the subpoena and does not disclose user information "except in limited circumstances." Does DM abuse qualify? Because it should.
The subpoena was quickly attacked by advocacy groups. “Anonymous speech is a longstanding American right,” said Paul Alan Levy of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, a Washington organization that has defended anonymous commenters who have been sued by companies and politicians. The group is working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on the case; Witold Walczak, legal director for the A.C.L.U. of Pennsylvania, said in a statement that “any subpoena seeking to unmask the identity of anonymous critics raises the specter of political retaliation.”
Twitter users rallied to defend the two in angry bursts, including “Twitter! Fight the Power!” and in all caps, “Tom Corbett, you should never be in any public office; ur 2 thin-skinned!”
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley told the NYT that the subpoena had nothing to do with criticism of the attorney general. “There are many other Web sites and bloggers who are critical of Attorney General Corbett,” he told the newspaper. “When you’re the attorney general and you do the right thing, you sometimes make people unhappy.”
When you're the attorney general and you do the wrong thing, you make the Twitterati (and lazy bloggers) happy.