Twitter Filed A Lawsuit To Protect This Account's Right To Free Speech — And It Worked

The company refuses to reveal the user's identity.

Twitter is pushing back against the U.S. government in order to protect its users' right to free speech. The company filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Thursday, seeking to block an alleged order to reveal the user or users behind an anti-Trump account — and, as of today, it looks like it worked.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in San Francisco, Twitter received a summons demanding it provide information that could reveal who is behind the username @ALT_uscis, or ALT Immigration. It's one of several "rogue" Twitter accounts claiming to be run by federal employees — in this case from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services — who are opposed to President Donald Trump's policies.

The account in question has spoken out against immigration policies such as the recent travel ban against certain Muslim-majority countries. It tweeted a copy of the First Amendment on Thursday.


It's this amendment that Twitter cited to defend its users' right to privacy and free speech, arguing that complying with the order "would chill their exercise of the constitutionally protected right to speak anonymously." The lawsuit also cites Twitter's First Amendment right to provide a platform for such speech, and argues that the defendants have not provided evidence that a "criminal or civil offense has been committed" that would warrant disclosing the information.

The American Civil Liberties Union praised Twitter's actions and announced that it would go to court to defend the user whose identity was sought.

Then, just this afternoon, the ACLU tweeted that the Trump administration had backed down from its attempt to uncover the user's identity. According to court filings, the summons was withdrawn, so Twitter in turn withdrew the lawsuit.

"Big victory for free speech and right to dissent," the ACLU declared.

This isn't the first time Twitter has taken steps to protect user information from the federal government. Fortune points out that the company has previously fought orders to provide information associated with both WikiLeaks and an account associated with Occupy Wall Street. It has also pushed back against demands by foreign governments such as Turkey to shut down accounts criticizing those in power.


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