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@ACLUPA Will Defend Twitter Users' Privacy

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May 20, 2010

Today, the ACLU of Pennsylvania announced that it will represent two people who anonymously criticized State Attorney General Tom Corbett on Twitter. (As of Tuesday’s primary, Corbett is also the GOP candidate for governor.) Corbett’s office has asked a grand jury to issue a subpoena to Twitter demanding the company reveal the identities of Twitter users @bfbarbie and @CasaBlancaPA.

Twitter told the ACLU of Pennsylvania that it has not disclosed either users’ identities. Timothy Yip, Twitter’s legal counsel, told TechCrunch:

We protect and do not disclose user information except in limited circumstances. We notify a user, if we believe we are allowed to by law, when we receive any request for their information that we may be required to comply with. This policy is designed for maximum transparency and gives users an opportunity to object.

The ACLU has entered discussions with the Corbett’s office, asking them to withdraw the subpoenas. If the attorney general’s office refuses, the ACLU expects to file a motion to quash the subpoenas.

Using a grand jury to reveal the identities of political critics is “unconstitutional retaliation that violates the First Amendment,” said Witold “Vic” Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

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