Friday, January 11, 2013
Twitter refuses to hand details of racist and anti-Semitic users to French lawyers unless forced by a judge
I think they have struck the right balance here. Lots of speech that would not be criminal in America IS criminal elsewhere so handing over data on speech to foreign governments should only ever be done as a last resort
Twitter dug its heels in yesterday after French prosecutors demanded the details of users who have posted racist or anti-Semitic comments.
In what could prove a significant test case for the micro-blogging site, lawyer Alexandre Neri argued that the company is only subject to US law and only a judge in America could force it to release the information.
In October, Jewish student bodies asked Twitter to remove a number of messages which appeared under the hashtag #unbonjuif (#agoodjew), with some users posting examples such as: ‘#agoodjew is a dead Jew.’
France has a number of strict laws aimed at combating hate crimes.
The Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) and three other similar groups took Twitter to a French court asking them to hand over the names of all those responsible so they can be prosecuted.
But Mr Neri told the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris that Twitter ‘data is collected and stored in the United States’ – namely in San Francisco, where the site is based.
He added that the differences between French and US laws on freedom of speech have created a ‘huge void, a question mark’.
A spokesman for Twitter said it always suspends accounts when they are illegal, or in breach of its rules, but would not hand over details of account holders unless ordered by a judge.