Man who repaired Hunter Biden's laptop sues Twitter for saying contents he released were 'hacked'

John Paul Mac Isaac, the Wilmington, Delaware owner of a now closed computer repair shop, is suing Twitter for half a billion dollars for implying that he is a "hacker."  The case Mac Isaac v. Twitter, Inc. (link currently not working) was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida and alleges:

[25.] Defendant's false and negligent statements about Plaintiff include: …

[b.] Posting the reason for the [New York Post account being locked] as it being in violation of Defendant's "hacked material" rules ...

[26.] Defendant's Distribution of Hacked Materials Policy … defines a "hack" as "an intrusion or access of a computer, network, or electronic device that was unauthorized or exceeded authorized access.["]

[27.] The Hacked Materials Policy further defines "hacked materials" as "information obtained through a hack."

[28.] Defendant's actions and statements had the specific intent to communicate to the world that Plaintiff is a hacker.

[29.] According to Meriam-Webster, a "hacker" is "a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system." ...

[31.] Plaintiff is not a hacker and the information obtained from the computer does not [constitute] hacked materials because Plaintiff lawfully gained access to the computer, first with the permission of its owner, BIDEN, and then, after BIDEN failed to retrieve the hard drive despite Plaintiff's requests, in accordance with the Mac Shop's abandoned property policy.

[32.] Plaintiff, as a direct result of Defendant's actions and statements, is now widely considered a hacker and, on the same day Defendant categorized the Plaintiff as a hacker, Plaintiff began to receive negative reviews of his business as well as threats to his person and property….

[36.] Defendant … has made false statements that the materials obtained by NY POST from GIULIANI, which originally came from the Plaintiff, constitutes hacked materials thereby categorizing the Plaintiff as a hacker.

My sympathies are entirely with Mr. Mac Isaac, and I hope a jury can be found in South Florida that will give him a fair hearing.  But I do worry that establishing a link between Twitter's use of the term "hacking" and the negative consequences he suffered will be difficult.  Adi Robertson writes at The Verge:

The complaint cites several negative business reviews that criticize Mac Isaac based on the facts of the Post story — but it's unclear why Twitter should be held liable for those reviews. Twitter also declared a day later that the Post's reporting didn't violate its "hacked materials" policy, part of a rapid series of policy shifts around the saga.

In addition, Twitter may blame the negative consequences on the New York Post.  Mary Chastain points out at Legal Insurrection:

In the lawsuit, Mac Isaac noted he talked to the FBI and Mr. Robert Costello, an attorney for Giuliani, between July 2019 and October 2020.

The Post received the hard drive from Hunter's computer from Giuliani, not Mac Isaac.

Therefore, Mac Isaac did not know the Post had the hard drive. He did not want the Post to print his name or give anyone permission to report his name.

But the Post named Mac Isaac in its stories about Hunter along with a photo of his store The Mac Shop.

The story caught fire on social media, mainly because of the "hacked materials" explanation from Twitter. The platform locked the Post's Twitter account.

Twitter can hire legions of the most expensive lawyers money can buy, and I fear that it will be able to escape paying damages.

Here is a video of Mr. Mac Isaac explaining his position:

Photo credit: YouTube screen grab (cropped).

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