NEW YORK (AP) – An Occupy Wall Street protester whose tweets were subpoenaed pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on Wednesday in a case that became a clash over social media privacy.
Malcolm Harris, a writer and editor in his 20s, was sentenced to six days of community service. Defense attorney Martin Stolar said Harris wanted to plead guilty so he could focus on appealing a decision by the judge to hand over his Twitter messages to the prosecution.
“Malcolm believes that the Twitter issue is much more significant than this conviction on disorderly conduct,” Stolar said.
The case became a hot topic among social media users and electronic-privacy advocates after prosecutors subpoenaed about three months of Harris’ tweets. Harris, Twitter Inc. and some civil liberties and privacy groups unsuccessfully challenged the demand.
Prosecutors said Harris couldn’t reasonably make privacy claims about a service he used to share his thoughts with the online world. Twitter turned the messages and his user information over in September, facing the possibility of being held in contempt of court if it refused.
Stolar said he and Harris will appeal the decision because it violated Harris’ privacy and free association rights and threatened to set a precedent in other cases. He said personal information is stored differently now than it was years ago: Financial and personal details are increasingly being saved on computer servers and the online cloud, and it’s wrong to circumvent the owner of the information and ask the operator of the computer equipment or service for the user’s details.
“The law has not caught up with the technological change,” Stolar said.
Harris was among more than 700 people arrested during a march on the Brooklyn Bridge in the early days of the Occupy movement against financial inequality and what protesters called corporate greed. Prosecutors have said Harris’ tweets could cast doubt on his claim that he was unaware of the police orders he was charged with disregarding. The messages were initially posted publicly but had become inaccessible as newer ones crowded them out.
On Wednesday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Lee Langston read in court some of the tweets that proved Harris was there.
“The police didn’t lead us onto the bridge. They were backing up,” read one.
“Sabotaging vital transportation arteries is never simply `peaceful protest'” read another.
Disorderly conduct is a violation, not a crime. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino offered Harris a choice: three days of community service of the judge’s choosing or six days of Harris’ choosing.
Harris chose the latter.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development