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Twitter indicated Thursday that it will appeal a decision by New York County Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. that the microblogging site must hand over a user's posts. The case stems from an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney regarding the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 -- in particular, one that occurred in October, when protestors blocked the Brooklyn Bridge. How the case is resolved could have major implications for what constitutes speech in the social media realm and how it is protected.
Let's see, the Supreme Court (Citizens United) has declared that corporations et al are 'persons' with all the rights and protections afforded actual, living people thus allowing unlimited and unaccounted for donations of money into the political arena. So these entities get 1st Amendment protections including implied 'expectation of privacy'. They are free to find just how much power money can buy without having their actions exposed for public scrutiny.
Of course, this is in line with thinking of the framers of the Constitution that only wealthy men had the right to vote. It took years before the 'common man' gained any input to the selection of office holders although Pennsylvania' residents actually started this fight before the signing. Then it was over 100 years before women would be recognized as having the 'right to vote'.
Now we have the courts determining that individuals 'communicating or publishing' their opinions via electronic means have no 1st Amendment rights or 'expectation of privacy'.
I find it interesting that this line of reasoning would have placed the authors of The Federalist Papers in dire danger. They guarded their secrecy very diligently and the first indication of authorship only came to light after Hamilton's death in 1804. Following this line of reasoning would have doomed the thirteen colonies to remaining subject to Brittan and we would still be bowing to the Queen.
Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense, The American Crisis and later Rights of Man, escaped British prosecution for sedition only by living in France. Common Sense was credited by John Adams as being of such importance that without it the colonies would have failed to win independence.
In summary, 'Citizens United' gives the very wealthy license to buy our government.
And the court's caviler treatment of the 1st Amendment gives any police agency or prosecutor the power and attributes of a 'police state' or 'Big Brother'.
What a wonderful world the courts have chosen to embrace.