Sunday, 29 May 2011

Twitter bows to court action and hands over user contact details to British councillors and officials

Twitter has bowed to a court action brought by local councillors complaining that they were libelled in tweets, the Telegraph reports.

The individuals who brought the legal action were councillors and officials at a local authority, South Tyneside. They launched the case in an attempt to unmask an anonymous whistle-blower who calls himself Mr Monkey.

The Telegraph says: "The action is believed to have cost council tax payers hundreds of thousands of pounds.The unprecedented ruling has prompted a row over freedom of speech, with experts warning that it may lead to a flood of actions by lawyers in other cases seeking to obtain personal information about people who breach super-injunctions or post libellous messages on Twitter."

The Telegraph adds: "In their attempt to unmask Mr Monkey, the South Tyneside councillors and officials went to court in California, where Twitter is based.

"They obtained a ruling ordering the company to release contact details, location information and computer addresses of the individuals behind four accounts on the website. The court granted the order after it was told, by lawyers for the council, that messages posted on the accounts had been libellous."

The Telegraph notes the case "comes as lawyers for Ryan Giggs, the Manchester United footballer, attempt to obtain details of individuals who named him on Twitter as the holder of an injunction to protect details of his personal life."

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