Senators Challenge Trump Administration Over Twitter Witch Hunt

Tweet from @ALT_uscis

Senators Challenge Trump Administration Over Twitter Witch Hunt

Twitter is suing the American government to stop authorities from revealing the person behind an account that's criticised President Trump.

As a result, Twitter is withdrawing a federal lawsuit that challenged the government's request.

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the government's decision to back down, tweeting: "Big victory for free speech and right to dissent".

Still, Twitter was forced to file a lawsuit last Thursday after claiming that the government's demands for info on the account holder would run counter to the First Amendment.

The lawsuit began over an anonymous account, claimed to be run by federal immigration employees, that the U.S. government was looking to unmask.

"It seemed like a blatant attempt to censor or chill the people behind this account, or to retaliate against people who are speaking out against this administration", Williams said. The two-month-old account is often critical of the Trump administration's immigration policies, particularly its plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico and its immigration travel ban. The account described its users to The Associated Press in February as employees and former employees of the agency.

The customs agency's investigation into who started the @alt_uscis account led to the request that Twitter identify the author.

The micro-blogging platform dropped its own counter lawsuit, filed in response to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) summons, on Friday.

"The speed with which the government buckled shows just how blatantly unconstitutional its demand was in the first place", ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari said Friday.

The government so far hasn't specified a reason for wanting to know the identity or identities behind the Twitter handle.

She said she hoped the swift withdrawal would deter other federal agencies that might target users of similar "alt" accounts.

In its lawsuit, Twitter claimed the government can not compel the company to disclose users' identities without first meeting several tests.

"The rights of free speech afforded Twitter's users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the US Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech", the social media site argues in the legal filing.

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