Twitter Sues Government Over Attempts to Unmask Anti-Trump Account

Twitter Sues Government Over Attempts to Unmask Anti-Trump Account

The lawsuit over the anonymous account, claimed to be run by federal immigration employees, was filed in federal court in San Francisco, where Twitter is based.

Twitter is suing the U.S. government after it demanded it reveal the identity of an anti-Trump account. A copy of the summons included with the lawsuit said the user's information was needed in order to assure they were in compliance with federal tax guidelines.

The account is one of many established after the inauguration of President Donald Trump as dissent accounts of US government agencies. Second, Twitter argues the demand will have a chilling expression on free speech and political debate, and that the user is protected under the First Amendment. But the war of sensitivity is escalating in a major way with the Department of Homeland Security attempting to force Twitter to unmake the identity of a rogue Twitter account that is critical of Trump's immigration policy.

Along with the agencies themselves, Twitter's lawsuit specifically names Director of Homeland Security John Kelly and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin Mcaleenan.

Twitter declined to comment beyond the lawsuit.




Since Trump has taken office, a number of "alt-agency" accounts - unofficial deviations from federal agencies' verified online Twitter profiles - have started firing 140-character salvos at the new administration.

The complaint noted that many so-called resistance accounts have popped up since Trump's inauguration, claiming to be run by staff at various government agencies. The letter also threatened legal action against Twitter if the company didn't comply.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports that this isn't the first time Twitter has gone to court over users' privacy. Requests for social media account information from the USA government typically involve national security or criminal charges, she said.

Identifying which employees was apparently the goal of the DHS summons, demanding Twitter produce "all records" associated with the account or face legal consequences.

Twitter declined to comment to NPR, beyond pointing toward the latest filing. "In these circumstances, Defendants may not compel Twitter to disclose information regarding the real identities of these users without first demonstrating that some criminal or civil offense has been committed".

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