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Twitter rejects US effort to unmask anti-Trump users

Twitter rejects US effort to unmask anti-Trump users

Twitter is suing the U.S. government after the Trump administration tried to force it to reveal the real identity behind an anti-Trump account.

The "investigation of the @ALT_uscis account plainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the importation of merchandise into the United States", Twitter's lawyers wrote.

On Thursday, Reuters broke the story that Twitter is suing the USA government for trying to make the company give up the identity of the person or people running an anti-Trump account on its platform. There is no clear evidence that the user or users behind the account are actually employees of this agency, and it is just one of a number of "alternative" government-related accounts that have popped up in protest to the Trump administration.

Twitter, which has always been an advocate of Internet privacy, refused the request to unmask the user.

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The company filed a lawsuit against the federal Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection office, charging that their efforts to "unmask" the people behind the account violated the First Amendment. Twitter said that it informed the account holder on April 4, and told CBP that its request infringes on the First Amendment rights of the company and its users.

Some took to Twitter with "alternative" handles - claiming to be federal employees exercising their free-speech rights - and the resistance mushroomed into a movement. The account also posted a screengrab of the First Amendment and later joked, "This is one way to get verified".

Twitter said it received a summons on March 14 demanding that it provide records that would unmask the @ALT_uscis account, such as user names, account login phone numbers, mailing addresses and computer IP addresses.

Twitter declined to comment on its legal action when contacted by Fox News. The social media platform is apparently willing to go up against the feds in court in order to protect its users' privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the anonymous Twitter user in this case, and that organization said in a statement that it has "seen no reason the government has given for seeking to unmask this speaker's identity". The summons, the company said, "may reflect the very sort of official retaliation that can result from speech that criticizes government officials and agencies".

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