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Twitter CEO: We're committed to user privacy

Twitter was served with a subpoena on Jan. 26 requiring once-public tweets that had been deleted and other account information of Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street member charged with disorderly conduct in New York. Prosecutors requested the information under section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act, which requires service providers to disclose certain kinds of electronic communications without a warrant.

Twitter filed a motion to quash the request, but a judge denied the motion in April.

“If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy,” wrote New York Criminal Court Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr. in his ruling. “There is no proprietary interest in your tweets, which you have now gifted to the world.”

But speaking at the Online News Association's annual conference Costolo said that Twitter “strongly believe[s] it is important for us to defend our users' right to protest the forced publication of their private information.” He said that the micro-blogging service pledges to continue to fight any privacy intrusions in the future.

Twitter was forced to hand over Harris' information last week. Costolo said Twitter was “between a rock and a hard place” on the Harris account, and noted that it is appealing the decision. Harris’ information will be sealed until a decision is made in the appeal.

Twitter have a tough road ahead on that front. Tweets are “not the same as a private email, a private direct message, a private chat, or any of the other readily available ways to have a private conversation via the internet that now exist,” said Sciarrino. “Those private dialogues would require a warrant based on probable cause in order to access the relevant information.”

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