Twitter Sues US Government Over Demand To Reveal Identity Of Anti-Trump Account

Tyler Durden's picture

Twitter announced on Thursday that it had received a demand from U.S. officials for records that could reveal the user behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump, one @ALT_USCIS, and that it in response it was was challenging the demand in court.

Twitter said it was filing the lawsuit 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."

Moments after the news of the lawsuit broke, the Twitter account in question tweeted the following:

Twitter notes that "in the just over two months since it was created, @ALT_USCIS has frequently criticized the immigration policies of the new Administration, highlighted what the user views as a history of waste and mismanagement within USCIS and DHS, and publicized facts that the account’s users portray as casting doubt on Administration policies."

Some more details from the lawsuit:

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. 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.

And the heart of the complaint: according to Twitter, "the Defendants are now threatening the anonymity of the person(s) speaking through the @ALT_USCIS account. 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 summons was issued by a Special Agent in Charge within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, another unit of DHS. The CBP Summons is unlawful and must be enjoined for two reasons."

  • First, the sole statutory authority CBP invoked in issuing the summons—19 U.S.C. § 1509—authorizes the agency to compel production of only a narrow class of records relating to the importation of merchandise. But CBP’s investigation of the @ALT_USCIS account plainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the importation of merchandise into the United States. Section 1509 thus provides CBP no power to compel Twitter to reveal information pertaining to the identity of the individual(s) behind the @ALT_USCIS account.
  • Second, permitting CBP to pierce the pseudonym of the @ALT_USCIS account would have a grave chilling effect on the speech of that account in particular and on the many other “alternative agency” accounts that have been created to voice dissent to government policies. The Supreme Court has long recognized the extraordinary value of the kind of speech emanating from these accounts—pure political speech criticizing government policies and highlighting government waste and mismanagement. And the Court has likewise recognized that anonymity is often essential to fostering such political speech where, as here, the speaker could face retaliation or retribution if his or her real identity were linked to the speech. In this context, the CBP Summons must be declared unlawful and enjoined absent an evidentiary showing by Defendants 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 free speech rights of Twitter and its users. Defendants have not even attempted to meet that burden.

For these and other reasons discussed below, "Twitter requests that this Court declare the summons unlawful and enjoin its enforcement."

Much more in the full lawsuit below:

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wmbz's picture

Fuck Twatter!

mvsjcl's picture

LOL! Like they don't know! This is one of those silly cases put out there to try to bambozzle sheeple that the mighty DHS can't figure out who's behind a Twitter account. That's laughable!

fx's picture

Trump supporters get banned from Twatter while Trump attackers get protected to the hilt.

Tells you something. Then again TWTR will be gone for good before Trump leaves the WH. Just wonder what channel the Donald will then use instead...


in totally unrelated news a co-founder of twatter announces to sell a boatload of stock.... the rats are leaving the ship....

Chupacabra-322's picture

Just head on over to #Vault 7.

I'm sure you can find all the answers there. That is if the account hasn't been "Spoofed" then a "Parallel Construction" made.

BennyBoy's picture


Doesn't the DHS have the NSA's cell number? Address? Here it is:

National Security Agency
9800 Savage Rd., Suite 6272 Ft.
George G. Meade, MD 20755-6000

jcaz's picture

LOL- that's some funny shit, Benny- thanks for the laugh!

Good plan, sue the Government- now i see why that Twitter tool blew out of his shares today- gosh, it wasn't because he is "planning to make the world a better place" after all- who knew?

bob_bichen's picture
bob_bichen (not verified) Comtrend Apr 6, 2017 4:49 PM


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*** some links are shorted to "goo,gl"
*** some links are embedded in the text of the long texts
*** many long long comments (hello Dyler) are simple copied and pasted from other sites, as is much of the content on "dailywesternerVIRUS,com"

SEND an email to and DEMAND that ALL the spammers AND THEIR previous postings be removed.

Users who would like to communicate DIRECTLY with this Spamming Troll may wish to call the number listed on his facebook page:    *67-1-716-216-2454.  [The *67 assures that YOUR number remains anonymous, just like his posts.  Works on ALL phones, cell and landline!]

Donald Trump
John Law Livez
book man
alt-right girl
john doeberg
alt right dude
blue fin
audio feeline
Art Van Delay

mc888's picture

Hello, NSA? I seem to have misplaced about 30,000 emails and didn't make a backup. Could you please send copies to my office?


Hitlery Clinton


AllTimeWhys's picture

Defend free speech in one hand, 'incidentally' block content that goes against mainstream narratives in the other.



eatthebanksters's picture

I terminated my twitter account about two months ago, but I still love reading Trump's tweets.

N2OJoe's picture

I don't recall twatter suing Obummers gov for anything like this. I'm sure it's entirely non politically motivated.

AtATrESICI's picture

Anything that does not fit "The Narrative"....BANNED...Trump supporter or not. 

Sorry for the spam.

If you are someone like Whitney Wisconsin the tubes and twats love you????

If you don't know who Whitney Wisconsin is or what she does you are better off. I wish I could forget. Unfuc**** real.

JuliaS's picture

Once again, the government has all the records (on everyone) obtained though spying. They're merely looking to set another precedent when using evidence obtained without a warrant. Meanwhile, twitter doesn't give a rat's ass about US Constitution. They censor free speech left and right. They're full of shit, when it comes to defense of individual rights, just like Apple.

quadraspleen's picture

Is this why TSA will be asking me for my social networking account passwords when I enter the US?

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

Yet they out the kid who gave that fat mongoloid eichenwald the apparent seizure he deserved.

TheLastTrump's picture

They arrested "the kid", right? If you think you have the right to knowingly promote a seizure in someone that could result in injury or death you need to be bitch slapped upside the head, see how it feelz.


Tallest Skil's picture

I have proof that Twitter harbors and maintains accounts that call for the global genocide of whites. It's no wonder that they're suing over this.

TheLastTrump's picture

Yes, they are allowing VIOLENCE TO BE PROPAGATED against white people, conservatives, Christians, Jews.


But boy if any of those groups do it it's sooper dooper bad.

Rongy_dringus's picture

Could have just as easily said "zerohedge sues government" to protect your identity. Be careful what you post.

TheLastTrump's picture

No, there's DEEEEEEEP Twitter hate among conservatives due to their censorship of innocent conservative posts.


We're talking East German Stasi type crap all over Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, others.

There's been big exposes of liberal techies squashing conservatives when they had power over them. Big big background on this, mess with it at your peril.

fx's picture

TWTR suddenly becoming a champion of privacy protection? Sure.


LetThemEatRand's picture

I'm no fan of twatter, but they are doing the right thing here and everyone should be asking why the government is trying to unmask the user.   It sounds from the article like they are merely criticizing the government.  Agree or disagree, it is no business of the government who they are unless they broke a law.

TradingTroll's picture

It's an anti Trump move. This didn't happen under Obama.

-Captain Obvious

fx's picture

Correct, but consider this: 1) all of a sudden twatter discovers its love for privacy protection. 2) All of a sudden the alphabet soup of spy agencies need some official, formal co-operation from a company that has been in bed with them for years anyway.

Sorry, not buying this sh!t!

Raymond K Hessel's picture

fx is right. This smells of theater like it's all for show

Joe Sichs Pach's picture

Whoever the account is, they come out with a statement saying "FACT:" yet cite no source or any relevant data to back it up.  If I read the snippit of the summons correctly, the basis is to "ascertain the correctness of entries" the account is making.  


Definitely a gray area.  

If I owned a company and some anonymous employee is throwing stuff out to the world as "FACT" that is against the company's mission and may or may not be accurate, I too would want to find out who the fucker was and take them to task.  

MrSteve's picture

Just like Lois Lerner caught in an obvious lie, they still have the right to take the Fifth Amendment.

Fact: the Moon is made of green cheese. Wanna prosecute?

revjimbeam's picture

Just like unlocking the iphone after san bernadino. everyone put on a big show demanding a backdoor, and brave brave apple resisted in the name of customer privacy, when in fact they gave up the goods and had it built in from the git. kabuki

swmnguy's picture

The partisanship is immune to irony, is it not?  Unmasking is the patriotic thing to do when Twitter does it at Trump's request, the better to settle personal scores with someone mocking him.

But when Susan Rice does it it's a Gitmo-worthy offense?

It truly does only matter whose ox is being gored.  Values?  Hah.  Pure partisan advantage is all we care about anymore, and only for the short term.  We loved the theory of the Unitary Executive when it was Dick Cheney's baby.  We hated Obama's Imperial Presidential Over-reach, without the shred of a whiff of irony.  We're cheering today for "the nuclear option," but let the Senate change hands in 20 months, which is not out of the question, and I can already hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

TheLastTrump's picture

Right. You have no idea if what you're jerking off to there is factual, you just like it.



"you just got worked, didn't you? you know what they chose to tell you....what about other tweets? threats? classified info? we don't know"

TheLastTrump's picture

"It sounds from the article"



you just got worked, didn't you? you know what they chose to tell you....what about other tweets? threats? classified info? we don't know

BennyBoy's picture


Its part intimidation and part setting a precedence. They already know who it is.

Or those assholes are a lot worse than I think those shits already are.

1980XLS's picture

Fucking Hypocrites.

Fuck Twitter

Vlad the Inhaler's picture

Would not be suprised if Trump starts burning books soon.  He turned out to be as big a phony as Obama, just another Republican starting fake wars for the Cash4Cronies program.  And they even got the libs to support the war this time through the whole Russia conspiracy.

fx's picture

cool down! things look alarming, yes, but don't accuse him of stuff he hasn't even done yet.

Vlad the Inhaler's picture

You're gonna be alarmed when his admin requests the identities of all ZH members LOL.

1980XLS's picture

I'm sure they already have them.

1980XLS's picture

Check this shit out


I'm  guessing ZH has gotten these.

They just didn't let us know, like tried to.

TheLastTrump's picture

"I'm  guessing ZH has gotten these.

They just didn't let us know, like tried to."



That was completely unfair to Zerohedge, you should apologize for that libel.


You guys just run amuck, willy nilly silly season slanderfest motherfuckers.


There was a brief window where telling the world wouldn't get them thrown in prison. ZH didn't have that....get it?



"But between the subpoena being issued and the gag order being issued, one legal blogger managed to figure out what was going on. "I got an email and I looked at it and I thought wow, this is a federal grand jury subpoena to Reason magazine," says Ken White, a writer at the legal blog Popehat who is himself a former federal prosecutor."




A gag order should be extremely rarely used....these things are used by law enforcement to make their jobs easier.


Problem is, they are UN-AMERICAN & UN-CONSTITUTIONAL ATTACKS ON LIBERTY. Fuck your paid off shill judges....that's where we got bad law.


Heard a judge was presented with the need for 1800 properties to be entered so green water could be treated by vector control, mosquitos. After the 2008 crash, empty houses you know. Judge could have signed off on those, but he gave a blanket search warrant to enter every property in the county- including mine. That's illegal according to the 4th Amendment, but no one does anything.


4th people that knowingly break the spirit of that law should be put in prison yourselves, see how you feel about it....


oncefired's picture

Susan Rice Probably knows Who it is and even What time they take a shit everyday

Sofa King's picture

Don't get excited. I would be surprised if anybody in this government gives a shit about what you, me or anybody else has to say. All the motherfuckers want is their cut of our labors.

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

Meh, I think I've reached "terminal veolcity" and zen state due to constant gaslighting and usury.

Fiat debt matrix with invisible shackles, or FEMA big walmart anti-Trumpian gulag with real shackles, either way is ok.