Twitter drops lawsuit against US

Posted April 13, 2017

Twitter on Friday dropped a lawsuit it had filed a day earlier against the USA government, saying in court papers that the government had withdrawn a summons for information about an account critical of President Donald Trump.

In its lawsuit, Twitter claimed the government can not compel the company to disclose users' identities without first meeting several tests. The tech company had filed a lawsuit Thursday to protest the order, saying that it violated the user's First Amendment right to free expression. The account described its users to The Associated Press in February as employees and former employees of the agency.

Twitter has dropped a lawsuit it was poised to pursue against the U.S. government after the Trump administration withdrew pressure it was putting on the tech giant to handover details of a user who had been critical of the President.

The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the government's decision to back down, tweeting: "Big victory for free speech and right to dissent".

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Legal experts said Twitter would have had a strong case had it gone to court, as the government had not provided compelling information on why it was necessary to identify the critic. However, the bio for @alt-USCIS clearly states that it does not express the views of DHS or one of its agencies: USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Other such "alternative" - or "alt" - accounts include @Alt_CDC for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and @AltUSEPA for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The micro-blogging platform dropped its own counter lawsuit, filed in response to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) summons, on Friday. She noted that the government's summons to Twitter had boilerplate language but lacked a specific reason for wanting to know the identities.

Twitter was prepared to go to court to defend the right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment and it appears the Trump administration has no stomach for a fight. "But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings".

In 2014, Twitter sued the US government (under President Barack Obama) seeking to publish its full "transparency report" outlining government requests for information.