Investigators Say They Can Examine Your Tweets

The status of Twitter and social media publication as constitutionally protected speech may not be entirely clear at this early stage of digital media history.

Recent law and customs enforcement actions, however, make it clear that, for them at least, pretty much any cause is probable cause for using Twitter content to take action.

Two weeks ago two British tourists were met at Los Angeles International Airport and promptly deported for tweeting jokes taken from TV sitcom “Family Guy” about digging up Marilyn Monroe’s body. Last week Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street activist, was informed by fax that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance had subpoenaed his Twitter account looking for “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of September 15 through December 31,2011.

What makes Harris so dangerous? He was arrested back in the fall for “disorderly conduct” at a protest—technically a violation, not even a misdemeanor, much less a criminal act. He pleaded not guilty.

Harris had been arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge along with hundreds of other Occupy Wall Street protesters in October of 2011. He was charged with disorderly conduct, which he says “is not even a misdemeanor; it’s a violation.” Instead of accepting a deal from prosecutors, as some protesters have, he pleaded not guilty. Being arrested for protesting is nothing new. Having your Twitter account subpoenaed so that the DA can make a case, on the other hand, heads into waters that are only just being charted….

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Jason Rink is the Editor-in-Chief of The Liberty Voice. Executive Director of the Foundation for a Free Society. He is the producer and director of Nullification: The Rightful Remedy, and the author of “Ron Paul: Father of the Tea Party” the biography of Congressman Ron Paul. See more of his work at his writing at JasonRink.com and his film production work at FoundationMedia.org.

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