Twitter ordered to disclose identity of anonymous user

Dublin’s Glasnevin cemetery obtained the court orders after Twitter user made ‘highly offensive’ claims

Twitter has been ordered to disclose email accounts, IP addresses, and postal addresses associated with the account.  Photograph:  Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Twitter has been ordered to disclose email accounts, IP addresses, and postal addresses associated with the account. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

 

The operator of Dublin’s Glasnevin cemetery has obtained court orders order directing Twitter to disclose the identity of an anonymous twitter user alleged to have made “highly offensive” statements about it and members of its staff.

The orders were granted by the High Court’s Mr Justice Paul Gilligan to Dublin Cemeteries Committee, trading as Glasnevin Trust.

The judge declined, at this stage, to make an additional order directing Twitter delete material posted on it concerning the Trust.

Any such order should be sought after the relevant Twitter user has been identified and notified of the proceedings, he said.

The orders made against Twitter International Company include one directing Twitter to carry out a number of steps, including disclosing the identity of the user of a twitter profile called “Justice4Employees” at the account address @Glasnevinexpose.

Twitter is also ordered to disclose email accounts, IP addresses, and postal addresses associated with the account.

The type of orders sought by the trust are known as Norwich Pharmacal orders, orders requiring disclosure of material.

Eugene Gleeson SC, for the trust, said ther application arose from posts on the Twitter account between January and the end of March last that were disparaging, defamatory and damaging to the Trust and members of its staff.

While the posts ceased at the end of March, the “highly offensive” statements still remain on the social media platform, counsel said. This case was aimed at having the posts removed.

Twitter, represented by Paul Coughlan BL, had neither consented nor objected to the orders sought in relation to the identification of the account holder but suggested that they be amended.

Counsel said his client had concerns over the application for an order directing Twitter to delete all material posted on the account in so far as it relates to the trust.

‘Impossible situation’

Twitter was not in a position to say if the remarks complained of were defamatory or not and being asked to remove such statements in the absence of any finding of defamation left Twitter in an “impossible situation,” counsel said.

Mr Coughlan argued Twitter should not be asked to take the statements down and any such order should be sought against the person or persons who posted them.

Counsel also said the trust had delayed in seeking the orders, given it had first raised the issues complained of in March.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Gilligan said the remarks made about the largest cemetery in Ireland, which contained many monuments of historical significance, were “very serious” and appeared “grossly defamatory.”

The judge said he was prepared to grant orders in favour of the trust concerning the identity of the account users, without any of the amendments advanced by Twitter.

However, he was not prepared to make orders directing Twitter to take down the material, he said. Any such order should be sought after the identity of the user is known and they had been notified of the proceedings.

The trust if it so wished can return to court and seek orders removing the material when the identity of the user is known, he added. He gave Twitter 21 days to comply with the orders.