Twitter is suing the US government over allegations that the administration’s officials demanded for details of a Twitter account opposed to President Donald Trump.
In the lawsuit, Twitter said that American constitution accords each person the right of free speech and that covers anonymous political speech.
The US Department of Homeland Security – the lawsuit’s defendant – turned down requests for comments on the pending litigation.
It is alleged that the account in dispute, going by the name @ALT_uscis, is under the management of federal immigration employees.
Twitter filed the lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court. The firm is also based here.
The account uses acronyms that are expanded as follows – the USCIS is a representation of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services while the description is a two-word sentence – ‘immigration resistance’.
The anonymous Twitter user has a following of 33,000 and will be represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Twitter said in the lawsuit that it receive administrative summons last month demanding for release of details linked to the account.
The summons copy notes that these details are needed to aid in an investigation seeking to explore taxes, fines and duties compliance as well as other immigration issues.
There is a huge possibility of Twitter having a strong case, since there is no clarity on how the laws and regulations can be associated with the anonymous account.
Paul Alan Levy, staff attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group, said that the government will in the long run come out of the case looking bad.
Twitter has maintained that the government has no legal backing to “compel Twitter to disclose information regarding the real identities of these users without first demonstrating that some criminal or civil offense has been committed”.
American Civil Liberties Union chipped in, applauding the social media giant for having stood for the rights of its users.
“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 an emailed statement.
Shortly after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Twitter accounts began to emerge, purporting to offer alternative services to those of the government.
It is alleged that most of these have been setup by former and current employees of the given agencies. One common thing amongst them all is that they harshly criticize their new boss.
The government seeks to use the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) power in obtaining the account’s details. Among the data demanded for include mailing addresses, phone numbers, User names, account login and I.P. addresses.
Twitter was to hand in this information by 13 March 2017 although they were served with the order on 14th.
Allowing the CBP to gain access to pseudonym of the @ALT _UCCIS account would negatively impact the Site’s freedom of speech. This is a platform that has been established to voice dissent to government policies.