Twitter ordered to identify racist tweeters in France
A French court has told the site to hand over user-identifying data
IDG News Service - A French court has ordered Twitter to hand over any data that could help authorities there identify people who posted racist and anti-Semitic tweets on its website.
The case, decided Thursday in the 17th Chamber of the Paris Criminal Court, stems from a complaint filed in October by the Union of French Jewish Students. The group acted after an uptick in anti-Semitic remarks were posted to Twitter under the hashtag #agoodjew.
The student group wanted Twitter to remove the tweets and to adopt a new system for responding to hateful messages. "We ask Twitter to take responsibility," UEJF president Jonathan Hayoun said prior to the ruling.
But the court's decision went further, requiring Twitter to turn over any data that could identify those who posted the tweets. Twitter's French site must also provide an easy way for users to flag tweets deemed illegal under French law, including racist and hateful messages.
Most of the #agoodjew tweets have since been removed by Twitter.
Hayoun called the court's order an "historic decision." "It reminds the victims of racism and anti-Semitism that they're not alone, and that the French law that defends them must apply everywhere; there should be no exception for Twitter," he said in a statement (in French).
But John Simpson, a consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog, said Twitter should resist turning over the data to the extent that it can. "I fear, however, that under French law Twitter ultimately will have to release the information," he said.
"Twitter can avail itself of appeals processes, but ultimately Twitter must obey the rule of law of sovereign nations, if they want to continue to operate in that country," echoed analyst Scott Cleland, president at Precursor, a consultancy in McLean, Virginia.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It isn't the first time Twitter has had to walk a line between freedom of speech and laws that restrict hate speech. In October it blocked the account of an extreme right-wing group in Germany following a government order. That followed a new policy enacted at Twitter intended to recognize that different countries have different laws and ideas about freedom of speech.
The French court's order comes in the same week that Google released its biannual Transparency Report showing that government requests for user data have increased by more than 70 percent since 2009.
- The Truth About Cloud Security "Security" is the number one issue holding business leaders back from the cloud. But does the reality match the perception?
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Best Practices for Securing Hadoop Historically, Apache Hadoop has provided limited security capabilities. To protect sensitive data being stored and analyzed in Hadoop, security architects should use a...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!