Twitter's Lawsuit Against DHS Prompts Authority Abuse Probe

Twitter's lawsuit against the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) prompted an internal investigation into potential abuse of authority that led the San Francisco-based social media giant to sue the federal agency for alleged violations of the First Amendment and unreasonable requests for user data. It's currently unclear when the probe was started, but its existence was confirmed by the DHS' Inspector General John Roth who wrote to Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and detailed the investigation on Friday, Reuters reports. Roth's letter to Wyden was sent as an official response to the Senator's earlier request for an investigation into the matter, as Twitter's clash with the DHS raised some concerns about free speech protections in the country, with numerous privacy advocacy groups and politicians defending Twitter's decision to resist the agency's request for identifiable user data of a dissident Twitter account that has been criticizing President Trump and the current U.S. administration in recent months.

While the DHS officially dropped its request earlier this month and Twitter promptly pulled its lawsuit against the federal department in response to those developments, the internal investigation following this ordeal suggests that the situation is far from being resolved. The controversy began when Twitter disclosed that the DHS' Bureau of Customs and Border Protection requested private data of an account on its platform that was previously critical of President Trump's immigration policies and even openly mocked the U.S. administration on several occasions. The request — received by Twitter in March — was based on an old statute regulating tax filings, but the Californian company argued how that poor reasoning is only an attempt to suppress free speech in the country by harassing individuals critical of political figures. The DHS denied those accusations but it remains to be seen whether the federal department will attempt to reargument its request at some point in the future and try to acquire data about the @Alt_USCIS Twitter account using a different legal basis.

The name of the Twitter account in question recently led to speculation that the profile was run by government employees, though that notion hasn't been confirmed. An update on the situation will follow soon as Roth's investigation is expected to be concluded in the coming weeks.

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About the Author

Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]