Twitter challenges US order for anti-Trump user records

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. The case sets up a potential showdown over free speech between Silicon Valley and Washington.

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. Its Twitter feed has publicly criticized the administration's immigration policies, particularly the actions of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division of Homeland Security.

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. It now has more than 40,000 followers.

A recent message cites the text of the First Amendment.

More news: Homeowner arrested after shooting intruder dead in the shower

Twitter filed a suit against the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday (6 April) to try to keep private the identity of an anti-Trump account, as the DHS made attempts to unmask the person behind it.

Your Views: Readers' Letters Victim advocates fear family violence summit an empty gesture ahead of election John Drinnan: When does plain talk become hate speech? . If a request from the government is all it takes to overturn this anonymity, wouldn't one of Twitter's main appeals be pretty irrelevant? First, it maintains that the CBP does not have jurisdiction to demand such information, which includes "names, account login, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and I.P. addresses", associated with the account. It argues this would go against the anonymous user's first amendment rights: the right to free speech. And even if Defendants could otherwise demonstrate an appropriate basis for impairing the First Amendment interests of Twitter and its users, they certainly may not do so using the particular investigatory tool employed here-which Congress authorized exclusively to ensure compliance with federal laws concerning imported merchandise-because it is apparent that whatever investigation Defendants are conducting here does not pertain to imported merchandise. That right, the company said, is particularly important when discussing political speech. When contacted, Twitter said that there was no further statement than the original filing.

As you probably know by now, there are a whole bunch of "alt" or "rogue" government Twitter accounts, initially inspired by what appeared to be tweets from a former National Parks Service employee containing "rogue" information against the Trump administration.

It was filed in a California federal court.

  • Desiree Holland