Occupy Wall Street Protester Admits Guilt in Twitter Case

An Occupy Wall Street protester pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a case headed for an appeals court over the right to privacy for posts on the social media service Twitter Inc.

Malcolm Harris, 23, today in state Criminal Court in Manhattan admitted actions during an October 2011 protest on the Brooklyn Bridge that resulted in about 700 arrests. He was sentenced to six days of community service.

Prosecutors subpoenaed about three months of Twitter messages Harris posted around the time of the protest. Judge Matthew Sciarrino rejected motions by Twitter and Harris to block the state’s request for the tweets.

Twitter, based in San Francisco, released the posts in September after being threatened with a charge of contempt of court. The company appealed Sciarrino’s ruling to a state appeals court, seeking a judgment on whether it should have the burden of responding to subpoenas for its users’ messages.

Harris’s lawyer, Martin Stolar, said today that Harris also plans to appeal.

“It’s really about limiting future ways these subpoenas are going to be used,” Harris, a resident of Brooklyn, said about the appeal in an interview after his plea hearing today. “Social media’s not a testing ground for prosecutorial theories.”

The prosecutors said the police ordered the demonstrators to leave the bridge because they were disrupting traffic. The protestors said the police had given them permission to be there.

The criminal case is People v. Harris, 11-80152, New York Criminal Court (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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