The New York Police Department wants Twitter to hand over the data of a user who tweeted threats to open fire at a Broadway theater last week.
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"I might just shoot up this theater in new York I know they leave their exit doors unlocked. Ha now I gotta plan it step by step," tweeted @obamasmistress, who identifies him or herself as "Anonymous Celebrity."
"Planning a murder is harder than I thought but people are going to die just like they did in the theater," reads another tweet referencing a tragic shooting at a movie theater in Auroro, Colo.
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Planning a murder is harder than I thought but people are going to die just like they did in the theater .
— Anonymous Celebrity (@obamasmistress) July 30, 2012
The Twitter account in question is full of death threats against various celebrities, including Ellen Page and Khloe Kardashian, whom the Twitter user claims are on his or her "hit list."
@obamasmistress also links to a blog, but the only post written there seems to indicate that the Twitter account and the blog are owned by different individuals. A Google+ profile associated with the blog belongs to David McHenry, who has posted about video games and firearms.
Twitter refused the NYPD's initial emergency request for the user's data, according to Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. Browne told the New York Daily News that the NYPD received a standardized letter from Twitter denying the request. In response, the NYPD is in the process of requesting a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office with the goal of getting Twitter to turn over the data.
"They said that in judgment there doesn't appear to be a threat," said Browne. "We think our police judgment should trump that."
According to Twitter's Guidelines for Law Enforcement, the company "evaluates emergency disclosure requests on a case-by-case basis." If it receives information that gives it a "good faith belief" that there's an "emergency involving the death or serious physical injury to a person," it "may" give law enforcement any data which it has.
Those guidelines add that "non-public information about Twitter users is not released except as lawfully required by appropriate legal process such as a subpoena, court order, or other valid legal process," with the caveat that information "may not be accurate if the user has created a fake or anonymous profile."
Twitter and law enforcement have previously sparred with one another in court over subpoenas for users' data.
Twitter has argued that its users, not the company, owns each tweet, and therefore the tweets have legal protection. The company also believes that it has the right to deny subpoena requests under the Stored Communications Act and that law enforcement is required to get a search warrant for information about its users.
Neither Twitter nor the Manhattan District Attorney's Office would comment for this article.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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