* White House demanded Twitter reveal identities behind rogue account
* Twitter quickly responded with a lawsuit
* A day later the White House dropped its request
Last month, the White House hit Twitter with a summons demanding the social media giant release the identities behind a rogue account known for criticizing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. The @ALT_uscis account, which is allegedly run by current and former USCIS staffers, has become popular due to its extremely detailed and highly politicized posts.
In a brazen response, Twitter immediately filed a lawsuit against the Trump Team, stating they would not compromise the account’s privacy and claimed the summons was unconstitutional.
According to Twitter, “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.”
A day later the White House backed down.
What makes this case unique is how the government went about it. Instead of charging the Alt Immigration account with a crime, they simply tried to coerce Twitter into releasing their identities. By trying to strong-arm Twitter instead of providing a legal case, the White House essentially implied the summons was in no way part of a criminal investigation.
It was a clumsy effort at best, and likely not much more than a blatant distraction.
As the U.S. government continues to roll back privacy regulations, tech companies like Twitter are stepping up. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next, especially given the clumsy circumstances of this particular case.
While it’s a major victory for privacy, it’s a minor step forward in an ongoing fight that’s bound to continue. If anything, it’s given Twitter and more rogue accounts the cojones to keep on keepin’ on — at least until the White House is able to put a more legitimate case together.