Twitter refuses USA order to reveal user behind anti-Trump account

Twitter refuses USA order to reveal user behind anti-Trump account

Lindsey Duncan
April 7, 2017

Nearly instantly, a whole bunch of so-called "rogue" Twitter accounts claiming to be run by government employees popped up and started posting anti-Trump stuff. In its description, @ALT_USCIS says that it does not express the views of DHS or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Twitter Inc on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit to block an order by the US government demanding that it reveal who is behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump's tough immigration policies. Accounts apparently run by employees (or former employees) of the National Park Service, National Weather Service, Labor Department and other agencies have all appeared to question the Trump administration's policies and fact-check its assertions on a variety of topics.

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

The Trump administration is trying to force Twitter to unmask at least one anti-Trump account, according to a new lawsuit.

Two CBP agents sent the summons to Twitter last month and said it was "required to turn over "a$3 ll records regarding the [T] witter account @ALT_USCIS to include, User names, account login, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and I.P. addresses".

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The US Justice Department declined to comment on the case. The user posted an image of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Thursday afternoon.

Twitter said the government agencies, in seeking the identities of the account holders, would be "unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool", and asked the court to invalidate any summons for the data.

"P$3 ermitting 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". "We're going to fight for this user's right to remain anonymous".

"Twitter's actions in providing a platform for the dissemination of its users' speech - including its decision to permit the publication of pseudonymous speech - is fully protected by the First Amendment", Twitter said. The summons, the company said, "may reflect the very sort of official retaliation that can result from speech that criticizes government officials and agencies".