Twitter will notify its users before it hands over their personal information to UK authorities attempting to prosecute breaches of privacy injunction laws, according to a senior executive.
"Platforms should have responsibility not to defend the user, but to protect that user's right to defend him or herself," said Twitter's general manager of European operations, Tony Wang, responding to a question about the escalating row.
Earlier this month an unknown Twitter user published on his account a list of individuals who had taken out gagging orders to conceal their sexual indiscretions from the general public. The account was soon followed by more than 100,000 people.
The social networking and microblogging site then played a huge role in undermining the secrecy of a Premier League footballer, who filed for a gagging order over his affair with Imogen Thomas, as his name was tweeted and re-tweeted by over tens of thousands of users last week. The footballer was revealed to be Ryan Giggs by MP John Hemming in parliament.
On Friday last week the footballer and his law firm Schillings filed a legal action against the site. The court order, called the Norwich Pharmacal order, could potentially force Twitter to hand over the name, IP address and email address of users who tweeted Giggs' identity.
Wang assured users that if it legally obliged to give away their personal details then it will "notify the user involved, let them know and let them exercise their rights under their own jurisdiction".
He concluded with warning, however: "That's not to say that they will ultimately prevail, that's not to say that law enforcement doesn't get the information they need, but what it does do is take that process into the court of law and let it play out there."
Another spokesman from the site claimed they had "fought to ensure user rights" and blamed tabloids for being more interested in headlines than accuracy.