Twitter has agreed to hand over the personal details of users in the UK in what is described as a ‘landmark’legal case.
The action is being brought by a group of councillors and officials at South Tyneside Council attempting to uncover the identity of a blogger known as ‘Mr Monkey”, in relation to allegations of libel.
The group is pursuing action through the courts in California in a case believed to have already cost tax payers ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
A report in The Sunday Telegraph said:
They obtained a ruling ordering the company to release contact details, location information and computer addresses of the individuals behind four accounts on the website.
The court granted the order after it was told, by lawyers for the council, that messages posted on the accounts had been libellous.”
Since 2008, Mr Monkey has accused the councillors of everything from ballot-rigging to drug-taking. It even claimed one councillor had ordered a public bus to turn around and pick him up from a pub late at night.
The Telegraph said that since 2009 criticisms of the council has appeared on Twitter, which the councillors claim is linked to the earlier blogs.
The group has now been granted a subpoena ordering Twitter to release the name, address, email address, telephone number and geographical location of the users behind five accounts: @fatcouncillor, @cllrdavidpotts, @councillorahmedkhan, @councillorkhan and @ahmedkhan01.
An independent councillor in South Tyneside, Ahmed Khan, admits to being behind one of the accounts and is suspected by the councillors of being behind the Mr Monkey account, an allegation he denies.
He told the Telegraph: ‘If a council can take this kind of action against one of its own councillors simply because they don’t like what I say, what hope is there for freedom of speech or privacy?”