This article was published on March 2, 2012

Twitter confirms it cooperated with Boston Police to provide details of a user

Twitter confirms it cooperated with Boston Police to provide details of a user

Twitter has revealed that it provided Boston police with data about one of its users that may have had a level of involvement in the Occupy Boston protests, following a lengthy court battle.

Authorities in Boston sought the information as part of an investigation following cyber attacks on the Boston Police force and a police union, according to a Boston Globe report. The @pOisAnON Twitter account is now suspended but information about user — known as ‘Guido Fawkes’ — was first requested in a letter sent to Twitter on December 14.

Yesterday, Twitter spokesperson Matt Graves confirmed the information had been given to authorities per the request. “We provided information on a single user,” Graves said, however he did not explain whether the firm had fulfilled requests for information about the @OccupyBoston account and two hashtags: #BostonPD and #dOxcak3.

The Boston District Attorney’s office is satisfied with the cooperation on the undisclosed investigation — which it claims is not related to the Occupy events — as spokesperson Jake Wark revealed:

Twitter’s recent communication with our office gave both parties a clear understanding of what information was relevant to our probe. We requested and received only that information. This is a focused investigation, not a fishing expedition.’

Twitter’s actions have been criticised by the American Civil Liberties Union which fought the request on the basis that it went against the rights of the US first amendment; which prohibits restrictions on free speech.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has previously hailed the company as the ‘free speech wing of the free speech party’ but criminal investigation are all an altogether different area for the company. As it states on its website, it will only provide user data when legally required to:

In accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, non-public information about Twitter users is not released except as lawfully required by appropriate legal process such as a subpoena, court order, or other valid legal process.

The service has been criticised for introducing a platform to allow the censoring of tweets in individual countries. However, in reality, the censorship plan — which is yet to block a single tweet to date — is simply a more transparent way of disclosing government attempts to censor users on the service.