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Update 11:45 PDT: The government on Friday withdrew (PDF) its demand that Twitter unmask the account holder behind the @ALT_uscis handle, putting an end to the privacy dispute.End Update:
The Trump administration is demanding Twitter expose the anonymous account holder behind the @ALT_uscis handle that has been critical of the US president’s immigration policy.
The handle has more than 56,000 followers since it debuted in the immediate aftermath of President Donald Trump signing his first immigration executive order.
The authorities believe it is run by a government employee of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, and suspect the account is one of several so-called new “alt” Twitter feeds run by federal employees critical of the government.
The Customs and Border Protection agency, which is seeking to unmask the account holder, issued Twitter a summons (PDF), unsigned by a judge, citing a section of federal law granting border officials the power to investigate importation taxes.
Twitter is refusing to unmask the account holder, saying the government is “abusing” its authority by making the demand without a legal basis.
“Beyond that boilerplate language, the CBP Summons provides no justification for issuance of a summons targeting the @ALT_USCIS account,” Twitter wrote in court documents challenging the order, which demanded that Twitter keep it a secret.
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