Friday 17 July 2009

Is TechCrunch going too far?

Trying to answer the questions I have received about the issue of TechCrunch publishing information about Twitter, I will make few remarks:

1- First, not being a techy expert, I cannot see how anyone needed to hack the Twitter website, hacking users' accounts in order to get into Twitter's employees account - by the way, who's names an accounts are openly published by Twitter - to guess the email account passwords to steal informations to send to the inbox of TechCrunch.

See : 'The guy (”Hacker Croll”) who claims to have accessed hundreds of confidential corporate and personal documents of Twitter and Twitter employees, is releasing those documents publicly and sent them to us earlier today.'

2- Eventually, after few hours of announcements, TechCrunch, having consulted their Lawyers, decided to publish SOME of these information. They expressly mention:
'the vast majority of these documents aren’t going to be published, at least by us.'

My question here is : what have they done with the rest of the documents, monetized?

3- Their final decision to publish the document is :

'a few of the documents have so much news value that we think it’s appropriate to publish them.'

Which is a legal justification to limit the right to privacy and confidentiality that benefits to Journalists and news reporters, the public interest to disclosure of news and comments.

4- Ultimately, TechCrunch publishes the information backing itself by a 'twitter' agreement, that is immediately questioned:

RT @ev @TechCrunch... "we have been given the green light by Twitter to post this information" What?! By whom? That's not our understanding

5- The jurisdiction applicable being the US, I would recommend this excellent legal analyze by Sam Bayard
Harvard's Citizen Media Law Project examines Twitter leaked doc case ...
I fully agree with Sam that this is a question of ethic, judging if the publication of these 'stolen' documents - although there is no robbery as the information is not a property - is newsworthy enough to encourage hackers to pursue these sort of 'intrusions' in the future.

1 comment:

  1. This brings some clarifications to me. The hacking did not attack the Twitter website but some of its employee's personal email :

    " a hacker was able to access a Twitter employee’s personal email account, according to a blog post by Twitter cofounder Biz Stone. Once there, the hacker struck the mother lode: access to the employee’s Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Apps account, which contained Docs, Calendars and other Google Apps that Twitter uses for sharing notes, spreadsheets, ideas, financial details and so on."
    from ARB CACHE - 'Twitter Hack Opens Pandora’s Box of Security Issues'