An Irish man identified as a whistle blower, Stephen Walsh, is suing an anonymous Twitter user for libel over tweets after Walsh’s appearance on Irish public broadcaster RTE this summer. Walsh appeared on RTE July 16 about “procurement practices in Irish hospitals.”
The RTE program reported that “some staff at two Dublin hospitals were passing on commercially sensitive information to a medical supplies company, which included competitors’ price lists.” After the RTE report, three employees at the two hospitals were suspended. The program can be watched here.
RTE spokesperson Laura Fitzgerald told iMediaEthics by e-mail that Walsh wasn’t “identified by name” or face when he appeared on the RTE program. “We blurred his face in his interview on camera and distorted his voice,” she wrote.
The judge Colm Mac Eochaidh called for Twitter to identify the tweeter, according to the Irish Times. While Twitter didn’t name the person, it did turn over the tweeter’s e-mail to Walsh’s representatives.
iMediaEthics asked Twitter for confirmation of this. A Twitter spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail: “We do not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons. Our guidelines for law enforcement explain how authorities can request information about accounts, and our transparency report discloses requests by country.”
The guidelines for law enforcement state: “Non-public information about Twitter users will not be released to law enforcement except in response to appropriate legal process such as a subpoena, court order, or other valid legal process – or in response to a valid emergency request.” The transparency report indicates Twitter has only received one request for Ireland from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2015.
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According to RTE, there were previously reporting restrictions preventing media from covering this matter.
iMediaEthics wrote to Walsh’s lawyer, Daniel Fennelly, for more information about this case, including what the tweets alleged. He responded that, “It is really a decision for [the solicitor in the case] as to whether he wants to furnish you with the information sought.”