The social media company Twitter is suing the U.S. government after denying a demand from the Trump administration that they disclose personal details of a Twitter account opposed to their policies.
Twitter filed the lawsuit Thursday, saying, "The rights of free speech afforded Twitter’s users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech."
The "@ALT_uscis" account is an outspoken critic of Trump's immigration policies, with one of the users of the account claiming to be a federal immigration employee. Twitter says the administration demanded they release private information about the account a month ago.
In response to the news, the account tweeted, "now on CNN! and we gained 17000 followers in less than 30 minutes. Thank you CBP/Trump."
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has taken up the case for Twitter, saying that the government request to Twitter was highly unusual. “We have seen no reason the government has given for seeking to unmask this speaker’s identity,” ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari told Reuters.
The targeted account tweeted the section in the lawsuit which referenced the government's stated reason for wanting the private information from Twitter:
line 45 https://t.co/yj78uBVq69— ALT-immigration 🛂 (@ALT-immigration 🛂)1491509694.0
A copy of the summons filed with the lawsuit says the records are needed for an investigation to ensure compliance with duties, taxes and fines and other customs and immigration matters.
It was not immediately clear how the anonymous account fit into those laws and regulations.
Some on social media, including the targeted account, noted that the "unmasking" that the Trump administration sounded very much like the "unmasking" of Trump campaign members that has caused such a furor.
Last week : Unmasking is outrageous when it comes to Russian collusion. Today: Unmask @alt_uscis because customs import code.— ALT-immigration 🛂 (@ALT-immigration 🛂)1491512982.0