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Anonymous Twitter User In The UK Revealed To Court in Libel Case


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A lawsuit involving Twitter is causing a lot of fuss in the UK and elsewhere, since Twitter revealed account details and private data of a Twitter account holder to the authorities. The main concerns is that this puts a dampen on free speech online, however, Twitter acted in full compliance of the law and, like in the past, notified the account holder and gave him time to respond and fight the claim.

The city council of South Tyneside, in the UK, accused an anonymous blogger and Twitter user going by the name Mr Monkey of libeling council members.

The council asked a California court for details about the user so that charges could be brought against him.

Twitter was ordered to supply all of the relevant info, but notified the user in question, Ahmed Khan, a South Tyneside councilor, that a court asked for his details.

The user had the opportunity to challenge the claim, while remaining anonymous. However, he declined to do so, not being familiar with the US legal system and being afraid of the legal costs associated with fighting a lawsuit abroad.

Twitter then proceeded to hand over the requested data, as it is required by law. Khan also received a copy of all of the data revealed. Khan denies being the author of the libelous accounts.

Twitter revealed the data for five accounts, only two of which Khan says are his. While he denies being involved, he does say he has been critical of the council in the past and believes the council is spending too much money with the lawsuit.

He also claims he doesn't need anonymity to express his views on the council members or their politics. Rather, he says he fears that whistleblowers which may have contacted him over Twitter may be revealed as a consequence of the lawsuit.

The main concern about the lawsuit is that it is the first time, at least in the UK, where a California court was used successfully to retrieve information on Twitter users. However, Twitter did all that it could legally do to ensure that the users are protected.

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