Twitter takes on US government
The company said the federal government ordered it to reveal the identity of an account critical of the Trump administration.
Well, that was quick.
Twitter on Friday dropped a lawsuit against the US government after US Customs and Border Protection withdrew a summons demanding the identity of people behind a Twitter account critical of President Donald Trump. Twitter had just filed its lawsuit on Thursday.
“Because the summons has now been withdrawn, Twitter voluntarily dismisses without prejudice all claims,” the social media site’s attorneys wrote in a legal filing to the court Friday. The Department of Justice didn’t respond to a request for comment.
CBP, a part of the US Department of Homeland Security, was trying to unmask the owners of Twitter account @ALT_USCIS. USCIS is the acronym for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is also part of the DHS.
In response to the summons, which was issued on March 13, Twitter sued the Department of Homeland Security and CBP. “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,” Twitter wrote in its suit.
The account, which has more than 150,000 followers, calls itself the “Immigration resistance” and states it doesn’t represent DHS or USCIS. It has been tweeting messages highly critical of the Trump administration on immigration and other matters. @ALT_USCIS is one of dozens of “alternative” government agency accounts that sprang up after Trump was inaugurated as the country’s 45th president. Other alt-accounts include @AltUSNatParkService, which bills itself as “The #Resistance team against #AltFacts#FauxNews #FauxScience,” and @RogueNASA, “The unofficial “Resistance” team of NASA.”