Twitter has dropped a lawsuit it was poised to pursue against the US 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.
Earlier this week, the platform took the unusual step of submitting a federal lawsuit against the White House. The move followed a request from the government which demanded Twitter hand over the identities of the individuals behind an account which has been critical of US president Donald Trump’simmigration policies.
Twitter's legal action came in response to the government's previously unreported attempt to learn details about @ALT_USCIS, an account believed to be run by a a current employee of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Twitter cited its commitment to freedom of speech as the reason for pushing back, noting: “The rights of free speech afforded Twitter's users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech.”
However, the social network dropped proceedings before they even began on Friday (6 April), saying in a court filing that the Trump administration had removed pressure to disclose the details, adding: "[because] the summons has now been withdrawn, Twitter voluntary dismisses without prejudice all claims."
The spiked lawsuit would have marked a landmark battle over free speech between Washington and Silicon Valley had it gone ahead. When Twitter revealed it had been pressed for information several free speech advocacy groups were vocal, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which was set to represent the anonymous Twitter user in court.
“Speaking anonymously about issues of the day is a longstanding American tradition, dating back to when the framers of the constitution wrote under pseudonyms,” ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari said in a statement. “The anonymity that the first amendment guarantees is often most essential when people criticize the government, and this free speech right is as important today as ever.”
Speaking earlier this month, Twitter's founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey conceded that tech companies are "definitely not above the law," but called for a "middle ground" between authorities and firms like his own.