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Twitter won't unmask racist Frenchie unless US judge says so

Hé Parisians! Nos lèvres sont scellées!

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Twitter has told a Paris court it will not name an anonymous French tweeter unless a US judge orders it to do so.

Alexandra Neri, a lawyer for San Francisco-based Twitter, said the social network was bound by American law and would not divulge the information at a hearing this week.

The French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) is suing Twitter in France to force it to unmask whoever set up the account UnBonJuif, which was used to spread anti-Semitic and racist messages in October. The French tweets used a hashtag that trended nationally in the European country until the messages were pulled.

France has strong laws against hate speech, and the student group wants Twitter to cough up the details so it can identify the user who sparked the anti-Semitic outpourings and launch a prosecution. However, the offensive tweeter may not even live in France.

After El Reg asked Twitter to confirm its position on jurisdictions, a spokesperson said:

You can find a number of examples where Twitter has been asked to turn over user information to various governments around the world and our response has been pretty consistent.

So that's a non to the French judges. For in the UK, Twitter refused to hand over information that would identify the wag behind a Twitter account that satirised a Daily Mail and General Trust newspaper executive. The publishing group started legal action in a California court but rapidly halted the endeavour.

The French student union has asked Twitter to create an easy-to-use mechanism for reporting hate speech quickly. The website's spokesperson reiterated to The Reg foreign desk that the microblogging biz is clear in its terms of use about what material is and isn't acceptable, and that it already has a mechanism to report tweets:

Twitter does not moderate content. If we are alerted to content that may be in violation of our terms of service, we will investigate each report and respond according to the policies and procedures outlined in our support pages.

The spinner added: "We adhere to the laws of the countries in which we operate." ®

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