New York Subpoenas Texting Guru

Messaging coder helped anti-GOP protesters communicate
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 31, 2008 12:20 AM CDT
Shown are demonstrators at the Republican National Convention in 2004. Some protesters used Tad Hirsch's TXTmob service to communicate.   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – New York lawyers have asked the creator of a mass text-messaging service for records of texts sent during 2004 Republican Convention protests, the New York Times reports. MIT student Tad Hirsch’s TXTmob service was a communication tool for demonstrators and reporters, providing up-to-the-minute data on what was happening where. Hirsch calls the subpoena unfair to users, citing his “moral responsibility” for their privacy.

Lawyers asked for the messages--and senders’ names--to shed light on lawsuits filed by hundreds who were detained for demonstrations. But Hirsch’s lawyer says the “vague” subpoena violates First Amendment rights.  Some 1,800 were arrested and charged for anti-Convention activities, and TXTmob, built to create a fluid “theater of dissent,” linked hundreds of them, announcing anything from major arrests to delegates’ evening plans.