Twitter sues government to stop unmasking of anti-Trump account

by Linda Olson April 7, 2017, 2:16
Twitter sues government to stop unmasking of anti-Trump account

Many of those rogue accounts are questionable in nature and likely fake, rather than being actually run by employees of the parts of the government they claim to represent.

The "investigation of the @ALT_uscis account plainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the importation of merchandise into the United States", Twitter's lawyers wrote.

In response to the Trump administration's attempts to unmask an account that is critical of the president, Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) filed a lawsuit against the US government on Thursday. The account described its users to The Associated Press in February as employees and former employees of the agency.

Twitter, which has always been an advocate of Internet privacy, refused the request to unmask the user.

The Trump administration didn't want the public to know it had commanded Twitter to share the information.

Twitter has sued the US Department of Homeland Security over its demands that the microblogging site unmask an anonymous anti-Trump account.

The suit names DHS Secretary John F. Kelly, along with acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McCaleenan and two other agency officials.

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However, the filing of the suit seems to have emboldened the people behind the account, which now boasts the US Constitution's First Amendment as its pinned tweet.

The company said it received an administrative summons last month demanding that it provide records related to the account.

Twitter said its users have a constitutional right to disseminate such "anonymous and pseudonymous political speech". "Permitting CBP to pierce the pseudonym of the @ALT_USCIS account would have a grave chilling effect on the speech of that account in particular and on the many other "alternative agency" accounts that have been created to voice dissent to government policies", it added.

The move was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The objective of this request appears to be, and the effect of Twitter's complying with it likely would be, to enable or help to enable Defendants to pierce the anonymity of the person or persons who established and use the @ALT_USCIS account", the 25-page lawsuit states. The social media platform is apparently willing to go up against the feds in court in order to protect its users' privacy.

A CBP spokeswoman said Thursday the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

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