ACLU Intervenes In Case Involving Disclosure of Personal Information
This morning, Victor Blackwell of CNN, (@VictorCNN), tweeted that the ACLU has submitted a brief in the Kendrick Johnson case. They have taken a friend of the court position pertaining to the disclosure of the identity of 23 Twitter handles and cites First Amendment and privacy.
It’s actually the civil case filed by Kendrick’s parents for wrongful death. The Bell family responded with a counter-suit, alleging defamation. In their counter-claim, they allege that Kendrick’s mom used “authorized agents” to defame them on social media.
On November 2, 2015, I wrote in a post that people had been notified by Twitter that their account information had been subpoenaed in the Johnson v. Bell case. The Department of Justice filed a motion to intervene and a motion to stay discovery for 180 days pending completion of their investigation. The DOJ has extended their investigation into witness tampering and obstruction. The court denied the DOJ’s motions.
Also reported in that post is that a person who is a known internet harasser and extortionist tweeted to several individuals that their Twitter account information had been subpoenaed, and he did so days before Twitter notified those individuals. It’s the same person that one of our writers, Santiago, has a restraining order against and is currently in court in a contempt proceeding, alleging violation of that restraining order.
“Adam Dowel ”which is a handle used by the person who is the defendant in the contempt proceeding, is already trying to litigate the situation on Twitter. His argument is one that the Bell’s attorney can raise, but it is also the problem here and possibly why the ACLU has intervened. The ACLU has intervened in other cases involving subpoenas to Twitter for account information, but those cases were mainly for named parties to cases and the courts have ordered Twitter to turn over the information. This case might be unique because none of those 23 handles in the subpoena are named as a party in the counter-suit.
In essence, what is happening is that if Twitter is forced to turn-over account information for non-parties to a cause of action, then anyone can file anything with the court and conduct “discovery” into the personal information of non-parties. In general, John and Jane Does are not named in counter-suits because a counter-suit is a complaint against the party or parties who filed the lawsuit initiating the action.
The biggest problem here however, is that ”Adam Dowell” is a known harasser/extortionist with a demonstrated pattern of doxing people and posting the real or alleged real personal and private information of others on the internet, and using it to wreck-havoc in the lives of his target victims. He has already boasted about costing Santiago $10,000 in legal fees in the contempt proceeding. In other words, the harasser/extortionist deliberately uses the courts to cause his victims emotional distress and financial harm.
Since he knew the Twitter handles in the subpoena without the subpoena being publicly released, and before those individuals were notified by Twitter, does he have a relationship with someone involved in the case who will give him whatever information Twitter turns over in discovery? That’s a real concern.
Appreciation goes out to the ACLU for their intervention, and to the individual who worked tirelessly and contacted them. I will not say that individual’s name, but will publicly take my hat off to them because of their standing up and getting the correct information to the ACLU. In this matter, one person has made a difference.
I just added the ACLU’s brief to the document section.
Posted on 11/20/2015, in Cases, Cyberharassment, Department of Justice, Kendrick Johnson and tagged @AdamDowell75, ACLU, Kendrick Johnson, privacy, subpoena, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.