Twitter gives Boston police, prosecutors data in hacking probe

Social media giant Twitter handed over subscriber information today for one Twitter account indirectly tied to the Occupy Boston protest, ending a court battle fought behind closed doors as Boston law enforcement investigated hacking attacks on the Boston police and a police union.

The administrative subpoena was first sent to Twitter last December requesting information on the following Twitter subscriber accounts and hashtags: Guido Fawkes, @pOisAnON, @OccupyBoston, #BostonPD and #dOxcak3.

In the Dec. 14 letter, a prosecutor in Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office told Twitter the information was needed to assist law enforcement in an ‘‘official criminal investigation.’’


According to Twitter spokesman Matt Graves, the company provided the subscriber information for @pOisAnON, an account that is associated with the name of Guido Fawkes. “We provided information on a single user,’’ Graves said in a telephone interview today.

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Graves declined comment when asked how Twitter responded to the court’s order requiring the company to hand over information linked to hashtags and @OccupyBoston.

But Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said prosecutors are satisfied with Twitter’s response to the court order.

“Twitter’s recent communication with our office gave both parties a clear understanding of what information was relevant to our probe. We requested and received only that information,’’ Wark said in an email. “This is a focused investigation, not a fishing expedition.’’

Attorney Peter Krupp and the American Civil Liberties Union have fought the request by prosecutors in Suffolk Superior Court, where court records were impounded and court hearings were held out of earshot of the public in recent weeks.


But Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre last week ruled against the ACLU’s efforts. She ordered Twitter to hand over the information this week, and Twitter has complied with the judge’s instructions.

Speaking for the ACLU, Krupp said yesterday they continue to believe that the constitutional rights of their client, who uses the Twitter name of Guido Fawkes, are being violated. The ACLU also wants the entire case file to be made available to the public; only McIntyre’s order and the subpoena have been unsealed.

‘‘We continue to believe that our client has a constitutional right to speak, and to speak anonymously,’’ Krupp said, adding that the request by prosecutors ‘‘infringed our client’s rights under the First Amendment.’’

He said there will be no more legal fights on behalf of Guido Fawkes because Twitter has provided the information to law enforcement officials.

Prosecutors and Boston police have not publicly disclosed the focus of the criminal inquiry.


Wark said that prosecutors are not targeting those who participated in the Occupy Boston takeover of Dewey Square, some of whom were arrested by police when the makeshift campground was shut down in December.

‘‘The relationship between this investigation and Occupy Boston is tangential at best,’’ Wark said. ‘‘The charges arising out of the Dewey Square protest have already been addressed by the court. [Any media report] that links this investigation to the protest movement has been, and will continue to be, completely erroneous.’’

During the past several months, the main police website and the website for the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association have been targeted by computer hackers, some of whom claimed to have acted on behalf of Occupy Boston protesters.

John R. Ellement can be reached at