Twitter challenges US order for anti-Trump user records

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Twitter Inc said in a lawsuit on Thursday that it had received a demand from USA officials for records that could reveal the user behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump and that it was challenging the demand in court.

This is an action to prevent the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), and the individual Defendants from unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool to try to unmask the real identity of one or more persons who have been using Twitter's social media platform, and specifically a Twitter account named @ALT_USCIS, to express public criticism of the Department and the current Administration. In the lawsuit, it says that to demand a user be unmasked, the government must demonstrate a law was violated, prove that identifying the user is the "least restrictive" way of investigating the offense, and make the case that they aren't trying to suppress free speech or violate the First Amendment.

The account claimed it was being run by federal employees at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Amusingly, the lawsuit also notes that CBP demanded Twitter hand over this info the day before the summons was sent.

In the two months it has been created, 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.

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On March 14, the US Customs and Border Protections issued a summons to Twitter demanding the social network release records that would lead to the account's owners.

After some took to Twitter with "alternative" handles - claiming to be federal employees exercising their free-speech rights - the resistance mushroomed into a movement.

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

The company filed the suit in the Northern California District of the U.S. District Court.

When CBP made its initial request, the office used an obscure legal statute dealing with taxes on the "importation of merchandise", according to The Verge; Recode reported that this type of USA legal code usually pertains to counterfeit items coming into the US, not internet data. The protester later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

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