Twitter hands over tweeter details to Council


A South Tyneside blogger who shared his knowledge of a local council via Twitter has had personal details handed over to the authority he reported on.

The South Tyneside Council, in the North East of England, has spent up to 75,000 on the case to force Twitter the San Francisco-based microblogging site to hand over personal details of the blogger, known only as Mr Monkey, renowned for acting as a whistleblower on the organisation.

The Council claimed the stories Mr Monkey published were libelous. However, as the writer was anonymous, it was unable to take any action against him or her.

Three councillors and an executive from South Tyneside took up the case in a Californian court under instruction from the Council's previous chief executive (CEO).

They were successful and won the blogger's contact details, location and IP addresses, making links of four accounts associated with Mr Monkey and his potentially libellous commentary.

"The Council has a duty of care to its employees and as this blog contains damaging claims about council officers, legal action is being taken to identify those responsible," read a statement from the Council.

The identity of Mr Monkey has yet to be revealed, but rumours are suggesting Councillor Ahmed Khan, an independent and outspoken critic of the Council, could be leading the way.

He strenuously denied the accusation, telling the BBC: "I'm the kind of person who will tell you face-to-face what I think. I have no need to use an anonymous blog."

He has, however, been passing a lot of comment about the case on his own Twitter feed, such as:

"This insignificant local blog with a small cult following is now worldwide news. Well done guys a job well done. I think not!"

"Thx to their considerable efforts at the public's expense, it seems everyone wants to know more about the blog they would like to silence!"

No exact figure has been put on how much South Tyneside is spending on legal fees but a spokesperson confirmed to IT PRO it would be less than 75,000.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.