X v. Twitter

[2017] NSWSC 1300 (28 September 2017)
Document type
Court Decision

This case arose because an Internet troll used a series of Twitter accounts to attack and disclose financial information about the unidentified plaintiff, referred to as X. For the most part, Twitter removed the posts upon notification.

X sued Twitter in Australia. Twitter, a Delaware corporation with primary locus of operations in California, did not appear to defend the case, presumably in order to avoid waiving jurisdictional defenses. That approach backfired: the court found personal jurisdiction over Twitter, and also concluded that it had the authority to order Twitter to comply with Australian law globally. It also accepted plaintiff's assertion that Twitter could proactively block the offending content going forward. The court states, somewhat confusingly. that Twitter can do so without proactively monitoring content.

The court distinguishes Macquarie, a defamation case in which an Australian court enjoined defamation only within its territory, on the grounds that defamation law is likelier to vary nationally. The New South Wales Supreme Court granted a final injunction with global scope. It requires that Twitter block "any future tweets by the user or users responsible for the previous tweets, as well as any new account that may be opened by such a person" (at [27]). The final injunctive orders require that Twitter (at [29]; the final form of the orders are subject to a suppression order)

  1. be restrained from publishing the Offending Material anywhere in the world on the Twitter platform, their websites or otherwise;
  2. cause the Offending Material to be removed everywhere in the world from the Twitter platform and their websites;
  3. remove everywhere in the world the accounts held by any person or persons who are the user or users of one or more of the Offending Accounts (namely those used for the offending tweets) ‘to the intent that such person or persons, to the extent known by the defendants, be prevented from operating any account with the defendants’;
  4. be restrained from notifying the users of the Offending Accounts ‘of the removal of the accounts’. 

It also orders Twitter to disclose data about the user behind the posts. 
More detail and a critique of the case is in the Inforrm blog.

Topic, claim, or defense
Defamation or Personality Rights
Privacy or Data Protection
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Lowest Domestic Court
Type of service provider
Host (Including Social Networks)
Issues addressed
Trigger for OSP obligations
Limitation on Scope of Compliance (Geographic, Temporal, etc.)
OSP obligation considered
Block or Remove
Monitor or Filter
Account Termination
Data Retention or Disclosure
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Weakens Immunity
General intermediary liability model
Takedown/Act Upon Knowledge (Includes Notice and Takedown)