Twitter just filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection over an attempt by those agencies to unmask an anonymous Twitter account, @ALT_uscis, that is frequently critical of United States immigration policy.
From Twitter’s lawsuit:
Specifically, on March 14, 2017, they issued and delivered to Twitter an administrative summons (the “CBP Summons”) demanding that Twitter provide them records that would unmask, or likely lead to unmasking, the identity of the person(s) responsible for the @ALT_USCIS account.
The lawsuit also names Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection Kevin Mcaleenan, and two other CPB special agents.
Obviously, an attempt by the Trump administration to obtain information associated with an anonymous Twitter account critical of the government is a frightening and startling precedent. Twitter is asking the United States District Court in the Northern District of California to declare the CPB summons unlawful.
The account in question is, as Twitter argues in its lawsuit, similar to many other “rogue” Twitter accounts purportedly run by disgruntled US federal workers. Almost all of the accounts are obviously fake, but that doesn’t really matter. There shouldn’t be anything that stops you from making a “rogue” account critical of the Trump administration, or any other administration. The account in question even discloses in its bio that it does not represent “the views of DHS or USCIS”.
This isn’t the first time the White House has freaked out over tweets it didn’t like. Shortly after Trump took office in January, the National Park Service was temporarily banned from tweeting after it posted photos comparing Trump’s dismal inauguration crowd size to Barack Obama’s.