Twitter has said it was prepared to hand over data and information identifying tens of thousands of people who have used the website to break privacy superinjunctions.A senior executive from Twitter has admitted for the first time that the social network might turn over information to authorities if it was “legally required” to do so.
Experts had previously assumed that people who breached gagging orders on Twitter were protected from legal reprisals because the website is outside the jurisdiction of British courts.
The admission came after Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, warned earlier this week that people who breached injunctions online were in for a “rude shock”.
Ryan Giggs, the Premiership footballer, last week started legal proceedings against Twitter and “persons unknown” after more than 70,000 users revealed that he had obtained an injunction to hide an extra-marital affair.
On Monday John Hemming, the back-bench Liberal Democrat MP, used parliamentary privilege to identify Giggs in Parliament.
The admission by Twitter, however, could encourage legal action by a number of celebrities who have been named on the website as having obtained injunctions to hide alleged affairs.
Tony Wang, Twitter’s head of European operations, has said that the website would notify users in advance so they could fight the application in the court before Twitter handed over the information.
He said: “Platforms have a responsibility, not to defend that user but to protect that user’s right to defend him or herself.
“If we’re legally required to turn over user information, to the extent that we can, we want to notify the user involved, let them know and let them exercise their rights under their own jurisdiction.
“That’s not to say that they will ultimately prevail, that’s not to say that law enforcement doesn’t get the information they need, but what it does do is take that process into the court of law and let it play out there.”
When Mr Hemming named Giggs earlier this week he said: “With about 75,000 people having named Ryan Giggs on Twitter, it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all.”
Dr Search wonders if it will possible to trace the anonymous users if they have used fake email addresses and set up Twitter accounts in internet cafes as tracking the culprits will be very vague- especially as the most controversial Twitter account appears to have been posted to on only one day.