Twitter drops lawsuit against Trump administration
- Author: Zachary Reyes Apr 18, 2017,
Apr 18, 2017, 20:31
Twitter on Friday dropped its lawsuit against the USA government that had sought to block the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to discover who is behind a Twitter account critical of the Trump administration's immigration policies, according to a court filing. Another Twitter account for Badlands National Park tweeted about climate change; those tweets were blamed on a former employee who still had access to the account.
Nearly instantly, a whole bunch of so-called "rogue" Twitter accounts claiming to be run by government employees popped up and started posting anti-Trump stuff.
Following Mr Trump's inauguration in January, anonymous Twitter feeds voicing concerns at more than a dozen United States government agencies appeared to challenge the President's views on climate change and other issues. 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 also said that the government should also prove that the demand for the information is not a means to suppress the right to free speech and that the benefits of the investigation is more important that the free speech rights granted by the First Amendment to Twitter and the social network's users. DHS likewise declined to comment.
Twitter is suing the U.S. government after the Trump administration tried to force it to reveal the real identity behind an anti-Trump account.
Twitter says the US government has backed down on a request for records that could identify users behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump. The government move looks very much like a fishing expedition to try and bludgeon Twitter into revealing details of the account so the Trump administration can go after it and shut it down.
The acronym U.S. CIS refers to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the account describes itself as "immigration resistance".
To satisfy the First Amendment, Twitter argued, the government would have to demonstrate that a criminal or civil offense has been committed.
Twitter has refused to disclose the ID of the rogue agent, explaining that it is, in its eyes, a matter of free speech.
Somewhat humorously, "The CBP Summons ordered Twitter to produce the records to a CBP office in Washington D.C.by 11:45 A.M. on March 13, 2017 - the day before the CBP Summons was faxed to Twitter".
The lawsuit sets the government and Twitter up for a clash over digital privacy - which is an issue that has come up against the current administration and US government before. "But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings".
While the lawsuit is a massive step, it's not Twitter's first against the government. Bhandari represents the unidentified person or people behind the Twitter account.