Published: Sat, April 08, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jose Becker

Twitter Sues U.S. to Block Unmasking of Anti-Trump User

Twitter Sues U.S. to Block Unmasking of Anti-Trump User

The election of Donald Trump prompted a never-seen-before social media phenomenon: dissatisfied US government employees taking to Twitter and skewering the new administration.

Twitter wants to prevent the agencies from "unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool to try to unmask the real identity of one or more persons who have been using Twitter's social media platform", according to the lawsuit.

After the lawsuit was filed Thursday, many alternative government accounts rallied behind the user and publicly braced for a legal fight with the Trump administration. It says that the defendants, which also include John Kelly in his capacity as Secretary of Homeland Security, have not demonstrated an "appropriate basis" for impairing the first amendment interests of Twitter and its users.

A spokesman for DHS declined to comment, citing the fact it is pending litigation. (CIS stands for Citizenship and Immigration Services.) DHS was seeking all records including "user names, account login, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and I.P. addresses", according to court papers filed by Twitter in San Francisco. "We are pleased to see Twitter standing up for its users' rights, and the ACLU will soon be filing documents in court on behalf of this user", the ACLU said in a statement.

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"The Supreme Court has long recognized the extraordinary value of the kind of speech emanating from these accounts-pure political speech criticizing government policies and highlighting government waste and mismanagement", Twitter's suit states.

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The defendants (the two departments) had issued an administrative summons to Twitter on March 14, which directed Twitter to reveal the identity of that account.

The Constitution does not allow the government to suppress the speech of either current or former government workers, Twitter's lawsuit contends.

For weeks the account has posted criticism of the administration.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the filing.

"We are very heartened that Twitter is standing up for its users and making such full-throated defense of their free-speech rights", Bhandari said.

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