A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Twitter & Privacy

In my view, the second sentence here is the most important. If one posts material viewable by the entire world, the author implicitly licenses anyone to use the content-—in other words, no copyright applies, and the author does not “own” his or her user-generated content. The necessary corollary is that when the whole world can see your stuff, the government does not need permission, let alone a warrant, to look too.

Privacy law was largely created in the pre-Internet age, and new rules are needed to keep up with the ways people communicate today. Much of what occurs online, like blog posting, is intended to be an open declaration to the world, and law enforcement is within its rights to read and act on what is written. Other kinds of communication, particularly in a closed network, may come with an expectation of privacy. If government agents are joining social networks under false pretenses to spy without a court order, for example, that might be crossing a line.

Of course, where a social network allows users to restrict access, to friends or followers, the opposite conclusion holds. For instance, unless Facebook wall posts are made available to “everyone” in the user’s privacy settings, then there remain both legitimate ownership and privacy interests, such that the government can’t monitor that content without both probable cause and a warrant.

1 comment to Twitter & Privacy

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>