Twitter withdraws lawsuit against Trump administration
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Apr 10, 2017,
Apr 10, 2017, 20:53
The abrupt end to the dispute may indicate that Justice Department lawyers did not like their chances of succeeding in a fight about speech rights, said Jamie Lee Williams, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for digital rights.
The US government ordered Twitter to unmask the account and demanded information such as the account's phone number and IP addresses, under powers created to tackle the import of counterfeit goods, demanding, according to Twitter.
In the suit, Twitter notes that @ALT_USCIS is not the only "rogue" handle - as in accounts allegedly run by anti-Trump federal employees and used to criticize the president - that cropped up on the platform after Trump's inauguration. "But he did not identify any law or laws that he believed had been broken or point to any evidence substantiating any such belief-such as particular Tweets that he believes were unlawful".
The American Civil Liberties Union plans to file its own suit against CBP.
The so-called social media resistance movement began after the deletion of tweets and data from official US accounts and websites that proved embarrassing to the new president, including government reports about climate change.
The Department of Homeland Security, which is a defendant in the lawsuit, declined to comment on pending litigation. On Thursday, Twitter charged that efforts by the government to "unmask" the people behind the account violated the First Amendment.
Twitter, which counts Trump among its active users, has a record of litigating in favor of user privacy. Other such "alternative" - or "alt" - accounts include @Alt_CDC for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and @AltUSEPA for the Environmental Protection Agency. Twitter argues that it can not be forced into handing over the rogue account's information unless the government proves that a criminal or civil crime was committed.