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back to article Twitter forced to hand over user details to English council

Twitter has handed over users' details following a demand from a local council in North East England that took its complaint to California, forcing the micro-blogging site to comply with a US court order. It's understood to be the first legal action of its kind in the UK and comes after intense pressure has surrounded Twitter, …

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Anonymous Coward

heh

worst thing about this case is that the council decided to take the action in what should be a personal case, the council can't enter the case only the individual counsellors, or will the council pay for the legal action for anyone in their area who feels they've been libelled by twitter users?

The Counsellors should be required to pay the money back it cost to get the legal assistance.

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WTF?

Well said

It appears Mr Monkey may be on the right track after all.

I hope the Local Councils Ombudsman or somebody hits them hard for what is a criminal waste of Council funds. Gadaffi would be proud of these councillors.

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Holmes

Not for profit

"The Counsellors should be required to pay the money back it cost to get the legal assistance."...

and if they make any extra they should pay that, as well.

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FAIL

I don't get that?

They were slandered because of their position as councillors. Those working for us should be protected from lies and propaganda. I don't want someone telling me that someone who works for me is crap at their job, when in actual fact the opposite is true.

If the tweets were NOT libel I could see your point of view.

As it stands the council is bringing a case which I assume they are doing not just to name these twitter users but also to bring some form of compensation, which would go to the councils coffers based on the fact its their case and not a personal one. Loser pays.

To me you are just jumping on the tabloid bandwagon of any public spending is bad but jobs must be saved. How many nurses could this case have paid for?

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Boffin

Give us some details!

Did the California Court really issue an order, or did Twitter fold?

If so, on what legal basis of US &/or California Law did the Court honor the subpena request?

Tell us something important.

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Libel is not protect speech

Presumably this is the same law that the State Supreme Courts have said did not the protect names of anon IP addresses posting to wikipedia to be revealed. The US 1st amendment does not hold for speech that is actionable as libellous.

http://lawkipedia.com/social-networking/identity-of-anonymous-wikipedia-editors-not-protected-by-first-amendment.html

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In the US

You only have to demonstrate that you have a reasonable belief that that statement was true, as opposed to the UK position where you have to prove it.

The question still remains, on what legal grounds did the council challenge on?

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Boffin

The answer, my friend...

...is on page 65/66 (!) of the complaint which was linked to above: http://openaccess1.sanmateocourt.org/getpdf/pdftemp/201105281722593538/A-0000074796-1.pdf

The council is suing for libel, false light invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The court order requiring Twitter to provide the information isn't a finding that the council has proved the statements were libellous, an invasion of privacy etc. It's also not penalising Twitter in any way. It's just allowing them to find out who to sue. The council hasn't proven anything...there is still a long, hard, expensive litigation journey to go on yet...

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Facepalm

This is why

you use a program like TOR with a throwaway twitter account for true anonymity

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Big Brother

*REAL* user details?

Who signs up to twitter using real personal info*?

What do the council hope to do when these details come back?

NAME: Bob

SURNAME: Monkey

ADDRESS1: 99 Nostreet

ADDRESS2: Nowhereville

PCODE: F4 1SE

*Besides the foolish, that is.

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Silver badge

Re: *REAL* user details?

People are upvoting that. I was hoping JakeyC might be a one off moron for not figuring out how to use the details but apparently not.

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IP address?

It's these weird numbers tied to your ISP account.

Next step would be to hound the ISP to tell them who you are.

Safest thing to do when posting libel on Twitter would be to sign up in an internet cafe / library using false info and post your gossip from there, then never ever log into it on your home connection.

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FAIL

@Chris W, Wild Bill

"Under the order, plantiffs obtained the name, address, email address, telephone number and geographical location of the users behind the five Twitter accounts."

No IP addresses mentioned there.

Even so, an IP address ties your username to *AN* ISP account.

-1 for not understanding how the internet works.

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Anonymous Coward

Whos been using the wireless

AN ISP account doesn't prove anything or anyone. IP address can NOT be tied down to an individual becuase IP addresses can be spoofed, plus Wifi can be hacked -2 for you mate

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Trollface

Care to explain?

Care to expand on your learned assesment of my status as a 'moron'? No, really - I don't comprehend your point.

Twitter can release whatever they like, but false details in = false details out. Maybe you're just venting your spleen because you're kicking yourself for not having anonymised your own signup details?

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Re: Whos been using the wireless

Ah, the wi-fi defence, and everybody uses bit-torrent only to download the latest linux distro.

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Anonymous Coward

le sigh

if you're smart and you do such things you use a heavily used public access point, so a starbucks in a city or an internet cafe, etc. Woohoo you get an ip address and a time but seen as it's civil how are you going to pin that down to a person?

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Re: Care to explain?

>Care to expand on your learned assesment of my status

No, you wouldn't understand, and you won't find me on twitter, facebook, linkedin... Only here, see me anywhere else and it's an imposter.

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Megaphone

Fair enough

You're right, I doubt you'd be able to articulate your explanation to a high enough level for me to understand it.

Probably for the best, as I'm going to go now and leave you to argue with yourself.

Remember people, arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics; even if you win, you're still retarded.

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Facepalm

bored bored

Really bored.

Have we got to the end of watching who is waving the biggest wanger yet?

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Devil

Great Fucking Use of Taxpayers' Hard Earned

Q: When did the US become extended to the UK for legal reasons?

A: Watch George Michael's video with Tony and Dubya and find out for yourself!

I was driving and heard this on the radio and practically lost the will to live. Now Who can I see to not pay my Council Tax in protest?

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Alert

Can I just say

That the new spawn of satan icon looks remarkably like my girlfriends new handbag, should I worry?

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Anonymous Coward

Worry? No.

Only if you wear the wrong shoes with it.

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Terminator

£75,000 pissed up the wall, to start...

is another way of looking at it

http://www.annaraccoon.com/politics/monkey-business/

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Thumb Up

Let's hope it smokes out the tosser(s)

Whilst I'm not convinced of the individual merit of this case (why is the council doing this and not the individuals?), I support anything that helps to route out spineless twats who use the web to attack others anonymously because they know they're peddling crap or breaking laws.

And I'm include in this those who named Giggs: what the fuck gives THEM the right to discuss someone else's private life with the rest of the world?

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FAIL

Let's turn that around...

What the fuck gives YOU the right to decide what other people can discuss?

I might be inclined to agree with the first bit of your post, if it wasn't all being paid for with taxpayers' cash.

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Bronze badge

Well...

It's a free country, well more or less, and people are entitled to gossip? Twitter is seen as simply seen as an online water-cooler, where people gather to gossip about mundane shite.

I have to agree that this will hopefully get things rolling against those who bully others through anonymous online accounts and services. How many stories must we hear about kids stringing themselves up because a bunch of scum think it's funny to bug them so much, these kids see suicide as the only solution?

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Anonymous Coward

@NogginTheNog (if that is indeed your real name....)

Not sure if you are trolling or just really stupid. I'll guess stupid, I think.

So, given that you have posted anonymously, are clearly a spineless twat and are using the web to attack others, you now are duty bound to route yourself out. Off you go, old chap - name, address, date of birth, mother's maiden name, bank account details and NI number should be good to start with.

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First of all...

...you're right, the councillor's should have coughed up if they are that bothered. 50-75k would buy an awful lot of adult social care.

Second of all, you're wrong. You've conflated the libel with gagging orders that buy privacy for the rich.

And that's as far as I will go to pander to your attention seeking.

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@tomjol

>What the fuck gives YOU the right to decide what other people can discuss?

You're missing the point, no-one is saying you can't discuss whatever you want but that you should not be allowed to freely spread unfounded rumours nor gossip just because you think you can. I'm not sure of the exact details of this case but if the libellous comments were made in regard to the execution of the councillours duties then it's quite right that the council pay the legal fees which should be recovered from the alleged libeller if found guilty.

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FAIL

So do I assume

that "NogginTheNog" is your birth name then?

I mean, why else would be posting anonymously to attack others?

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Bronze badge

Why not use my real name?

Erm well maybe that's because the Google monster indexes everything and never forgets, and I do prefer a bit of privacy, just like Giggsy. Hmmm how many others on here post using their real names..?

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Facepalm

Why won't anyone think of ...

... the Streisand effect

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FAIL

Yawn

Even if Twitter gave up the IP addresses surely they'd then have to petition each Internet Provider to do a log trace or whatever it is?

Then you have the old "wasn't me, and WTF is an IP address?" defense.

What a waste of time and money.

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Facepalm

Technical Experts

The way they have hired technical experts to help them with this makes it sound like all they have to go on is an IP address. They will have to spend more money to subpoena the service providers now...

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Anonymous Coward

Legend has it that monkey hanging was done in...

... Hartlepool (not on Tyneside)

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FAIL

Expensive publicity

I saw this on the BBC news site, and was taken aback as South Tyneside is my council and it is my money they are wasting.

First thing I did was start googling to find the blogs and read them, as I am sure everyone else has, so it has just funded a massive publicity campaign for the blogs and the allegations and made them massively more public.

Regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, there is no way I would ever vote labour in my local elections again after reading them. I hope this all leads to a full invesigation, and people being brought to account over this and or the original allegations.

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Bronze badge

Bingo!

"Regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, there is no way I would ever vote labour in my local elections again after reading them"

And thus the justification for pursuing the action.

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Don't they know...

...they should get the super injunction first so no one knows they are chucking the residents' money at lawyers.

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sooo easy

There are a multitude of ways to remain annonymous, this is a complete waste of time.

@tomjol yeah I agree with you but you have to question the intelligence of a professional football player doing the following.

having am affair with a big brother wannabe who I seem to remember has already done the same with another footballer/

And trying to cover it up when all the papers knew about it, surely he must have realised that the game was up.

I think the whole thing has gotten silly but thats partly his fault, the whole thing should have been between his wife and him but in our pathetically celeb obsessed society it was never likely to be

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Fixed that for you...

you have to question the intelligence of a professional football player.

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Paris Hilton

Wrong!

There's a 3rd party here - the big brother wannabe. She chose to speak openly about the affair. As long as what she says is truthful and accurate then she should not be gagged by anyone else. Anything else is a denial of the right to free speech.

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reports suggest it cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to secure.

Could do, certainly, if they went the traditional route and hired a big firm of lawyers in the UK who then subcontracted the job to some equally expensive lawyers in the USA.

OTOH, this kind of stuff can be done quite cheaply, if you download the forms, fill them out yourself and just hire somebody to take them to the court. For an uncontested subpoena (as this was) you're looking at a range of a few hundred dollars (to pay a local ambulance chaser to stand in front of a judge for 5 minutes) down to as little as $50 if it fits one of the "accelerated subpoena" classes that Federal law provides for (there's one for copyright infringement, for example) where all you need do is get a local private investigator to put it in front of a court clerk for stamping.

Of course, I doubt that the council even thought of going the cheaper route. So that's a second charge of wasting public funds on the charge sheet, then.

Also, since councils can't sue for defamation, and given that they're probably planning some "alternative" form of retribution rather than honestly intending to follow through with legal action in CA, there's the question of whether they made a bad faith declaration in their demands for a jury trial, etc. in California.

Incidentally, I also find fault with the way that they've set out several of the counts, in that they've been sloppy about where the act began and where it ended (they really only needed to show one of those was in CA, to establish jurisdiction) and proving harm to the defendants "in the state of California" would seem difficult since it's unlikely that any of them have a reputation there to be damaged.

And the paragraph numbering looks messed up.

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Bronze badge

Twitter he not?

I've never used Twitter before, but I went to Twitter and entered "Mr Monkey" in the search box, and couldn't find him, only references *to* him on other people's feeds. Am I missing something, or have I come to the party so late that he's been removed?

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+1

+1 simply for the title.

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Facepalm

Who's the biggest Twit?

The twitterer ot the twits who try and fight against them?

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I know politicians get no sympathy, but...

... perhaps they're simply being realistic. I know the blabbering sophisticates take the view that it's just idle gossip that does not harm, but when a statement like:

"Regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, there is no way I would ever vote labour in my local elections again after reading them."

is made on El Reg and thumbed-up by its readers, you do start to wonder if the universal franchise is not the cause of our declining standards of government.

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Facepalm

context

I think you've taken his comments out of context. Maybe it's the criminal waste of taxpayer's money that's decided his future voting habits....

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Black Helicopters

J.G. Harston - Twitter he not?

Google is your friend here - there are three blogs all hosted by wordpress and findable with the slightest bit off google-fu.

Makes for interesting reading.

Waiting for the council's black helicopter to start circling my house soon...

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