Update: April 7, 2017: Well, that was quick Just a day after Twitter announced that is was suing the government, Customs and Border Protection has withdrawn its summons. The summons in question would have required Twitter to unmask the owner of the anti-Trump, ALT_uscis account. The New York Times reports that Twitter has dismissed its claims as a result. After the summons were withdrawn, @ALT_uscis tweeted thanks to both Twitter and the ACLU and announced that it will be taking a brief break after a tense few days.
This piece was originally published on April 6, 2017.
In case you missed it, our government is in an unprecedented state of disarray. But we can always count on Donald Trump to post a series of angry, nonsensical tweets when he feels as though he’s been wronged. Apparently, he and his staff also spend a great deal of time policing Twitter accounts that dare to criticize him. So Trump is busy attempting to unmask the people behind an anti-Trump Twitter account.
On Thursday, April 6, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Government in response to the Trump administration’s attempt to unmask and attack one of the many anti-Trump accounts. According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California, the Department of Homeland Security targeted the ALT_USCIS account. The department demanded that Twitter turn over records including account login information, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and I.P. addresses.
The Department of Homeland Security also requested that Twitter keep their summons a secret, and claimed that “failure to comply with this summons will render you liable to proceedings in a U.S. District Court to enforce compliance with this summons as well as other sanctions.”
When Twitter informed the department that a court order would be necessary, an agent from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection responded that “no such court order would be obtained.”
Now, the social media platform has made its own request to the court — Twitter has asked for a declaration that “the CBP Summons is unlawful and unenforceable because it violates the First Amendment rights of both Twitter and its users by seeking to unmask the identity of one or more anonymous Twitter users voicing criticism of the government on matters of public concern.”