Twitter sues Trump administration for trying to suppress free speech (Details)

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Thursday, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for asking the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to help unmask a rogue Twitter account. The Twitter account, ALT Immigration (@ALT_uscis), claims to be run by a government employee and has been critical of the Trump administration’s citizenship and immigration services.

Immediately after the news broke, the  ALT Immigration account posted a copy of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit states that CBP agents Adam Hoffman and Stephen Caruso sent a summons to Twitter, threatening federal court action if they didn’t turn over all identifying information on the account. The information requested included login information, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and IP addresses. The summons also included a request that the owner of the Twitter account not be notified of the action.

Twitter’s lawsuit against the Trump administration states that the CBP improperly employed an administrative summons, which is only supposed to be used when investigating merchandise that’s being illegally imported into the country.

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.

According to Twitter, the summons made no accusation of any criminal or civil wrongdoing, which sets a scary precedent for attacking our Constitutional rights.

In these circumstances, Defendants may not compel Twitter to disclose information regarding the real identities of these users without first demonstrating that some criminal or civil offense has been committed, that unmasking the users’ identity is the least restrictive means for investigating that offense, that the demand for this information is not motivated by a desire to suppress free speech, and that the interests of pursuing that investigation outweigh the important First Amendment rights of Twitter and its users. But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings. And even if Defendants could otherwise demonstrate an appropriate basis for impairing the First Amendment interests of Twitter and its users, they certainly may not do so using the particular investigatory tool employed here—which Congress authorized solely to ensure compliance with federal laws concerning imported merchandise—because it is apparent that whatever investigation Defendants are conducting here does not pertain to imported merchandise.

The ALT Immigration account thanked the Trump administration for the improper action because the spotlight quickly grew its presence on Twitter.


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