The Federal Government is trying to force Twitter to reveal the owner of one of its accounts that is critical of Donald Trump, but Twitter would prefer to respect people’s privacy. Thank you Twitter for standing up for all of us and our privacy, freedom of speech, and freedom to protest our government.
This suit could cause interesting discussions between the Trump administration and Twitter regarding digital privacy of their customers. It could also bring up the question of whether or not freedom of speech applies to Twitter.
The NY Times reported:
Twitter disclosed in a federal court filing on Thursday that it had received a summons directing it to reveal the identity or identities of those behind @ALT_USCIS, one of several so-called alt-accounts run by people purporting to be current or former federal employees. The @ALT_USCIS account, which quickly gained tens of thousands of followers, has frequently criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policies and enforcement actions.
Twitter said in its filing that it could not be compelled to disclose the identity or identities of whoever is behind the account. The company argued that the government’s directive and reasoning were unlawful, and that complying would have “a grave chilling effect” on the speech of alt-accounts that voice resistance to government policies.
“A time-honored tradition of pseudonymous free speech on matters of public moment runs deep in the political life of America,” Twitter said in its filing. “These First Amendment interests are at their zenith when, as here, the speech at issue touches on matters of public political life.”
Last year, for example, Apple, the world’s most valuable public company, squared off against the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a contentious case involving issues of privacy and national security.
The F.B.I. asked Apple to unlock an iPhone that had been used by a gunman in a 2015 attack in San Bernardino, Calif., in which 14 people were fatally shot. Apple refused, citing its customers’ privacy concerns and the potential legal precedent. The F.B.I. dropped the matter after finding another way to open the iPhone without Apple’s help.
The new case involving Twitter is more straightforward than Apple’s standoff with the F.B.I., which required the creation of new technology to circumvent the iPhone’s encryption. The Twitter case is centered instead on the protection of free speech, which is critical to the social media company’s platform.
Twitter has a history of protecting its users’ First Amendment rights. In 2012, it filed an appeal in a New York State court to protect account information believed to have been used by an Occupy Wall Street protester. The company has also sued the federal government over rules related to whether it would be allowed to simply disclose requests for user data from federal agencies.
Mr. Trump himself is a well-known Twitter user, regularly sending out incendiary missives about the economy, politics and all manner of other topics from his @realDonaldTrump account.
The mere existence of a “Vaccine Review Committee” would represent a serious threat to global public health. https://t.co/zivMoLTNXr
— Alternative CDC (@Alt_CDC) January 25, 2017
— ALT Immigration (@ALT_uscis) April 6, 2017
Should we be entitled to privacy? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)