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Daily Mail group boss spoof tweeter fights to protect anonymity

@UnSteveDorkland lawyers up after publisher sues Twitter

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

An anonymous wag who lampooned a Daily Mail group boss using a spoof Twitter account has six days to prevent his unmasking.

The publishing giant launched legal action in California to compel the social network to reveal the identity of whoever's behind the @UnSteveDorkland handle. The account sends up Steve Auckland, the former Metro managing director who is now CEO of Northcliffe Media, the British regional newspaper arm of the Daily Mail and General Trust.

Twitter's lawyers said the tweeter has six days to object to the court order. An email from the social network's legal team, seen by The Register, suggests that UnSteveDorkland contacts rights campaign group Electronic Frontier Foundation for advice.

If no objection to the order is received by Twitter by 1 August then it will hand over what personal details it holds on the user to the troubled publisher, the email stated. The court writ requested all data associated with the account, including an email address, a record of logins, IP addresses, and private messages sent from and to the account.

The Not Steve Dorkland twitter account, screengrab

The fake Steve Auckland's typical banter

According to the court document [hosted on the political tittle-tattle Order Order blog] anyone hoping to quash or modify the subpoena must successfully argue that the information required is privileged or should be subject to protection.

UnSteve told The Reg that a Californian lawyer has offered to represent him pro bono. Northcliffe Media has yet to supply us with a statement but we will update this story if it does.

Twitter declined to comment on this specific case. When asked whether the social network is failing to protect anonymous users, a spokesperson would say only: "In all such cases, Twitter believes it has to comply with a ruling from courts in its Californian home, but give those targeted the information they need to get a lawyer and defend themselves." ®

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