US backs down on seeking anti-Trump user records

US backs down on seeking anti-Trump user records

The Trump administration informed Twitter on Friday that it would withdraw its demand that the social media company unmask an account critical of the president - a move that prompted Twitter to drop its lawsuit. When contacted, Twitter said that there was no further statement than the original filing.

Esha Bhandari, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the Twitter user, said the government's request was highly unusual.

A day later, Twitter pulled the suit and said that the Trump administration had backed down. According to the lawsuit, it claims to be unofficial commentary by one or more anonymous employees of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, a unit of DHS.

In its April 6 lawsuit, Twitter called the subpoena an abuse of governmental power that appeared meant to suppress free speech rather than serve a legitimate law enforcement goal.

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The company argues that users are protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution with the right to "anonymous or pseudonymous political speech".

The lawsuit alleges that the request violates the First Amendment, is not authorized under the relevant summons law, violates the Administrative Procedure Act.

The federal government has withdrawn a summons sent to Twitter demanding that the company turn over information that would identify the user of an account that criticized the Trump administration. "Because the summons has now been withdrawn, Twitter voluntary dismisses without prejudice all claims against Defendants". The Department of Justice declined to comment. According to Twitter, the account has only been critical of Trump, and that there's no evidence it had committed any crimes. The account also posted a screengrab of the First Amendment and later joked, "This is one way to get verified". And it is utterly implausible that Defendants' interest in the person (s) who established and use the @ALT_USCIS account stems from their importation of merchandise into the United States.

Following Trump's election, a handful of popular "rogue" Twitter accounts sprang up, purporting to be run by disgruntled employees of federal agencies. The lawsuit is in response to the government's demand for the records. The protester later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

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