Will Twitter sue TechCrunch?

Will Twitter take legal action against websites that publish the company's confidential documents, which were leaked by a hacker?


Although the micro-blog isn't coming right out and saying it, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams published a blog post yesterday suggesting legal action was a possibility.

In a post entitled, "Twitter, Even More Open Than We Wanted," Williams said: "We are in touch with our legal counsel about what this theft means for Twitter...and anyone who accepts and subsequently shares or publishes these stolen documents. We're not sure yet exactly what the implications are for folks who choose to get involved at this point but when we learn more and are able to share more, we will."

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone blogged: This was not a hack on the Twitter service, it was a personal attack followed by the theft of private company documents.Williams also pointed out that while the publication of these documents could be embarrassing for the company, they aren't particularly revelatory about Twitter's future plans. But Williams also wrote that publishing the purloined documents could "jeopardize relationships with Twitter's ongoing and potential partners."

The confidential documents Williams refers to were obtained by a French hacker named Hacker Croll. The hacker reportedly obtained the data by gaining unauthorised access to a Twitter employees' personal e-mail account, and then using information in the e-mail account to access company documents stored on the Google Apps service. Williams said Twitter does not fault Google's security for the break in, and will continue to use Google Apps.

Twitter frenzy

While many news outlets and blogs are publishing accounts of the ongoing document theft, TechCrunch is the only high-traffic blog that has, to my knowledge, received the confidential documents and made the decision to publish them.

If Twitter does decide to take legal action for publishing the documents, it seems likely TechCrunch could be a target of those proceedings.

TechCrunch has come under criticism for its decision to publish some of these documents, which the blog considers to be of significant news value.

TechCrunch co-founder Michael Arrington said the blog disagrees with the notion the information was "stolen" and therefore should not be published. He argued that his site posts confidential information "almost every day" that has been "leaked by an employee or someone else close to the company," so why should Twitter's confidential information be any different?

Lawyers, Lawyers , and more lawyers

It's not surprising that Twitter would want to vigorously protect its intellectual property and other confidential information by considering legal action. But what is strange is a statement by TechCrunch that the blog has been working with Twitter lawyers to negotiate publication of these documents.

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