Twitter Files Federal Suit Against US Government For Rights Of Transparency In Government Data Requests

Twitter announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government stating that the company’s right to free speech is being violated since it is being prevented from disclosing the number of national security requests it receives. While the social networking service is able to provide a general number of requests received Twitter is not happy with this and wishes to disclose the exact number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court orders it has received.

“It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance – including what types of legal process have not been received,” says Ben Lee, a lawyer from Twitter, in a blog post. “We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges.”

Image Source: Flickr (Anthony Quintano)

Lee went on to say that Twitter drafted a Transparency Report addendum to the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal Bureau of Investigation that would provide specific details, but to no avail. Lee said that the company was unable to convince them to allow Twitter to publish its full report or even a redacted version.

Back in 2013, PRISM documents were being leaked that revealed the NSA’s data collection efforts through cooperation from major tech companies. This led to companies such as Microsoft and Facebook asking the government to allow them to disclose information regarding data requests. In response, the government gave companies the ability to publish NSLs and FISA orders so long as it was represented within a broad range.