The issue in precisely 140 characters: Pennsylvania’s attorney general wants to know the real names of two Twitter users. Twitter doesn’t want to give them up. #FreeSpeechShowdown
According to an article in today’s New York Times, state attorney general Tom Corbett wants to know the identity of two anonymous Twitter users (see also, Tweeps, Tweople) who wrote statements critical of him on the popular social-networking site. Corbett, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor in the fall, successfully asked a grand jury to subpoena the information from San Francisco-based Twitter, who is fighting the court order. In a statement to Techcrunch, Twitter legal council Tom Yip said the company protects the identity of its users: “We protect and do not disclose user information except in limited circumstances.”
A spokesman for Corbett’s office told the Times that the subpoena was related to the an open case heading for sentencing and that the point of the subpoena was not to silence any criticism of Corbett.
Let’s hope that’s true, because if Corbett’s order was designed to scare the two users, known only by their Twitter handles of @bfbarbie and @Casablancapa, into pulling punches against him, that’s hardly worked either. The two have turned their Twitter streams into a running list of links and statements further condemning Corbett’s actions.