Twitter sues the U.S. government for demanding it unmask an 'alt' account

Andrew Cummings
April 12, 2017

"Because the summons has now been withdrawn, Twitter voluntarily dismissed without prejudice all claims against defendant", said a court document filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California.

Following Trump's inauguration in January, anonymous Twitter feeds that borrowed the names and logos of more than a dozen USA government agencies appeared to challenge the president's views on climate change and other issues.

The Department of Homeland Security, which issued the summons, had no immediate comment.

On Thursday, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over attempts to force the social media giant to reveal the identity of those behind anonymous accounts that are critical of the President. They became popular after someone with access to the official Badlands National Park Twitter account began tweeting information about climate change that stood directly opposed to the President's viewpoints.

Free speech advocates told the Washington Post that the summons was apparently the first by a government agency that seeks to unmask an anonymous critic. The popular social media site has filed a suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its repeated attempts to find out the identity of the user or users behind an account that has been extremely critical of the government.

Twitter blasted the summons - which demands the user's name and login credentials as well as the phone number, mailing address, and IP address associated with the account - as unconstitutional.

Alt Immigration is one of several rogue accounts representing Federal agencies that have been created over the past few months; other such accounts include Rogue NASA and Rogue FEMA.

"To unmask an anonymous speaker online, the government must have a strong justification", Twitter said in the complaint.

In its lawsuit, Twitter claimed the government can not compel the company to disclose users' identities without first meeting several tests.

Everyone knows President Trump loves Twitter, but it seems the microblogging site isn't a fan of his administration.

In 2012, the company fought back against a court order compelling it to turn over basic user information and tweets from an Occupy Wall Street protester.

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