Twitter sues feds to block investigation into Trump critic's account

Twitter took its free-speech battle against the US government to court as it seeks to protect the identity of one of its account holders critical of the Trump administration

The account provides critical comment on USA citizenship and immigration services, and is claimed to be the creation of rogue former and past federal immigration employees.

Twitter acknowledges in their lawsuit that the account claims to be a dissenting member of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Twitter sued the federal government on Thursday to protect the identity of the person or people behind an anonymous account highly critical of Customs and Border Protection.

Twitter's court filing noted that the "alt-government" accounts started shortly after President Trump's 20 January 2017 inauguration, when the National Park Service posted a tweet comparing the crowd sizes of Trump's inauguration and that of President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP, was also named as a defendant in the suit, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco, where the company is based. But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings.


In the two months of its existence, the account has been critical of the Trump administration's immigration policies and "highlighted what the user views as a history of waste and mismanagement within USCIS and DHS", according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also argues that CBP was improperly employing the administrative summons, which Twitter said is a tool meant to be used only when investigating merchandise being imported into the country. When Twitter replied stating that such a demand would require a court order, Special Agent Adam Hoffman of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said, in the companies words, that "no such court order would be obtained".

In a lawsuit filed today, Twitter said Homeland Security in March demanded that Twitter release information about a user associated with one of the accounts purportedly run by dissenting employees working for various federal government agencies. The Trump administration has responded aggressively to leaks in the past, including on-the-spot phone checks of White House staffers suspected of sharing information with the press. "This is a way for Twitter to say, 'See, we are standing up for your rights, '" Kirtley said.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the filing. Twitter says this is a misuse of a law designed for investigating imported merchandise.

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