Twitter Says Trump Administration Has Dropped Demand For User’s Identity

Twitter has dismissed its lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, saying that the Trump Administration has rescinded its demand that the social media service turn over information about the real identity of a Twitter user who claims to be a federal employee.

The Twitter lawsuit made national headlines on Thursday, when the company took DHS and its Customs and Border Protection agency to court over an administrative summons requiring Twitter to hand over all identifying information it has on the owner of the @alt_USCIS account, one of several “rogue” Twitter feeds set up in recent months by people claiming to be current or former employees at a variety of federal agencies.

The person or persons behind the @alt_USCIS account claim to be employees of the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services agency, which falls under DHS on the executive branch family tree, but they have never identified themselves publicly.

In its lawsuit, Twitter revealed that a CBP agent faxed them the summons in March, demanding information on this account. However, Twitter refused to comply, arguing that the law CBP cited as the authority for issuing that summons deals with access to records involving taxes and duties on imports, even though “CBP’s investigation of the @ALT_USCIS account plainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the importation of merchandise into the United States.”

When CBP refused to drop the demand, Twitter sued, hoping to have the court rule that it is unlawful and unenforceable. But we won’t have to wait, as DHS has apparently walked back its demand.

In a new court filing [PDF] Twitter says that earlier today, lawyers from the Department of Justice contacted the company’s attorneys to “advise that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has withdrawn the summons and that the summons no longer has any force or effect. Because the summons has now been withdrawn, Twitter voluntary dismisses without prejudice all claims against Defendants.”

Meanwhile, the @alt_USCIS account has swollen from around 32,000 followers to more than 150,000 in two days: