Twitter Sues Government Over Secretive National Security Data Request

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Twitter Sues Government Over Secretive National Security Data Request image medium 4385039944

It seems like Twitter and the Unites States Government is gearing up for a fight.

According to CNNthe massive social media company has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department in federal court in San Francisco on Monday. Twitter is accusing the government of violating the company’s First Amendment rights by forbidding the company from disclosing how many national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court orders the company receives.

Ben Lee, vice president of Twitter, wrote in a blog post that the lawsuit is part of an effort from Twitter to publish a “transparency report” that will include the number of times the Justice Department has requested Twitter to hand over data. Lee wrote:

“It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our user’s concerns and to the statements of U.S. government surveillance — including what type of legal process have not been received. We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges.”

The Justice Department responded to Twitters lawsuit. Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said that the government is releasing some of the information on their surveillance activities to tech companies, and pointed to Google and Microsoft as evidence of their transparency. Pierce told CNN:

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“Earlier this year, the government addressed similar concerns raised in a lawsuit brought by several major tech companies. There, the parties worked collaboratively to allow tech companies to provide broad information on government request while also protecting national security.”

But critics of the Justice Department’s secrecy surrounding surveillance says that Twitter is on the money about challenging the government’s “gag order” on data request by the government. Jamell Jaffer, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, told CNN:

If these laws prohibit Twitter from disclosing basic information about government surveillance, then these laws violate the First Amendment. The Constitution doesn’t permit the government to impose so broad a prohibition on the publication of truthful speech about government conduct.”

[Photo Credit: Photopin]


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