Government Wants Info on Anti-Trump Twitter Account

Twitter has sued the government to protect the anonymous user
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2017 5:59 PM CDT
Twitter Sues After Government Demands User Information
This Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, photo shows a sign at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Twitter defied a US government request for records that could identify the owner of an anti-Trump account, and is challenging the order in court.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Twitter has sued the federal government after US Customs and Border Protection demanded user information for an account critical of the Trump administration, the Verge reports. Multiple Twitter accounts claiming to be run by disillusioned members of various government agencies sprung up following Trump's inauguration. One of them, @ALT_uscis, claimed to be run by one or more federal immigration employees, according to Reuters. CNN reports @ALT_uscis regularly accuses ICE agents of impropriety, such as taking bribes. Last month, Twitter received a fax from CBP demanding the login information, phone number, and mailing address of the user behind the account.

In its lawsuit, Twitter says it and its users have a First Amendment right to "disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech." It claims releasing user information would have a "chilling effect" on other accounts critical of the government. The actual user behind @ALT_uscis is being represented by the ACLU, which says the government usually only asks for social media account information for a criminal matter or pressing national security concern. The CBP's request was based on a statute that mostly deal with taxes on the importation of goods. An attorney for the ACLU says the ability so speak anonymously against the government is a "bedrock American value." The government isn't commenting on the lawsuit. (Read more Twitter stories.)

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