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X Is Fined $350,000 For Pushing Back Against Secret Warrant For Tump’s Twitter Account

Fined for challenging a gag order.

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The legal battle between Twitter and the federal judiciary over Special Counsel Jack Smith’s search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, @realdonaldtrump, was thrust into the public eye today. The controversy had previously been shrouded in secrecy, with the federal court of appeals upholding a $350,000 fine against the social media giant for refusing initial compliance – a new opinion, published here for the first time, shows.

Twitter’s refusal to cooperate immediately with the warrant issued on January 17, 2023, showcased the company’s commitment to user privacy and, it argued, free speech. A nondisclosure order that accompanied the warrant was the heart of the disagreement. Twitter asserted that this order infringed upon First Amendment rights and called for US District Court Judge Beryl Howell to halt the enforcement of the search warrant until their objection was addressed.

However, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the federal government. Their redacted opinion revealed that Twitter finally complied three days after the court-ordered deadline but not without facing a contempt charge and a hefty fine for the delay.

The court’s opinion, penned by Judge Florence Pan and joined by Michelle Childs and Cornelia Pillard, all appointed by either President Obama or President Biden, alleged that the nondisclosure order was temporary and carefully crafted to avoid endangering the ongoing criminal investigation.

Twitter’s legal team, however, argued that the order violated the constitutional rights of free speech, raising broader concerns about the implications for tech companies and the relationship between privacy and criminal investigations.

The decision of the appeals court reaffirms the government’s stance on prioritizing criminal investigations over the privacy objections of tech companies. The judges noted that Twitter was still free to express general concerns about warrants and to discuss the January 6 investigation publicly.

This case has reignited debates about the balance between the need for investigation and the respect for privacy rights. Twitter’s willingness to stand against immediate compliance, coupled with a significant financial penalty, emphasizes the tension that exists between tech companies and legal authorities.

If you're tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

Defend free speech and individual liberty online. 

Push back against Big Tech and media gatekeepers.

Defend free speech and individual liberty online. Push back against Big Tech and media gatekeepers.

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