Twitter Sues Homeland Security To Protect Anonymity Of 'Alt Immigration' Account

Twitter Sues Homeland Security To Protect Anonymity Of 'Alt Immigration' Account

Twitter Sues Homeland Security To Protect Anonymity Of 'Alt Immigration' Account

Twitter says its users have a constitutional right to disseminate such "anonymous and pseudonymous political speech".

This is one of several accounts created by people who claim to be current or former employees of federal agencies and "provide views and commentary that is often vigorously opposed, resistant, or "alternative" to the official actions and policies of the new Administration", the suit says.

"The goal of this request appears to be, and the effect of Twitter's complying with it likely would be, to enable or help to enable Defendants to pierce the anonymity of the person or persons who established and use the @ALT_USCIS account", the 25-page lawsuit states.

The suit names DHS Secretary John F. Kelly, along with acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McCaleenan and two other agency officials. The acronym CIS refers to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the account's description refers to itself as "immigration resistance". In November, Twitter said it would consider banning President Trump from Twitter if he violated its terms of service, saying: "The Twitter Rules apply to all accounts, including verified accounts".

Another account, this one belonging to Badlands National Park, was also temporarily ordered to halt its Twitter activity after a rogue user began to publish posts about man-made climate change.

The government, it adds, has "not come close" to demonstrating that there's been a criminal or civil offense and that "unmasking the user's identity is the least restrictive means for investigating that offense".

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

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

Twitter has requested a court block the Trump administration's request, calling it a matter of free speech.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports that this isn't the first time Twitter has gone to court over users' privacy.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the anonymous Twitter user in this case, and that organization said in a statement that it has "seen no reason the government has given for seeking to unmask this speaker's identity".

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