Twitter hands French prosecutors identities of anti-Jewish posters

A French court had ordered Twitter to identify those responsible for posts apparently contravening French laws on hate speech

Twitter has handed French prosecutors information enabling the identification of some of those responsible for posts last year apparently contravening French laws on hate speech, according to the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), which had filed suits against the company to compel it to release the data.

One lawsuit, filed in November, went all the way to the Court of Appeal, which on June 12 rejected Twitter's attempt to shield the identities of those responsible for posts made last year with the hashtag #unbonjuif (a good Jew).

The UEJF and four other French anti-racism organizations asked Twitter to reveal the identities of the posters and to make it easy for its users to flag messages potentially contravening hate speech laws.

In a ruling on Jan. 24, the court gave Twitter 15 days from receipt of the order to reveal the posters' identities.

In March, faced with Twitter's continuing reluctance to provide the information, the UEJF filed a criminal complaint against the company and its CEO, Dick Costolo, seeking €38.5 million (US$51 million) in damages for their failure to provide the information requested.

Days later, Twitter lodged an appeal against the initial ruling, which the court rejected on June 12, ordering it to pay the UEJF €1,500 in compensation and all costs relating to the appeal.

Following negotiations between the company and the UEJF, Twitter has handed the requested data to the French prosecutor, the UEJF said Friday.

"This communication puts an end to the dispute between the parties who have agreed to continue to work actively together in order to fight racism and anti-Semitism, in compliance with their respective national legislation, especially by taking measures in order to establish an easily accessible and noticeable reporting system to deal with unlawful tweets," the UEFJ said in a statement.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a statement it gave media outlets including Agence France Presse confirmed it had handed over information enabling the identification of the authors of some posts.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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