Twitter sues US government for the right to release surveillance information

Joe Hall
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Twitter says it wants to provide more transparency to its users (Source: Getty)
Twitter is taking on the US government.
The social media giant has filed a lawsuit against the FBI and the Department of Justice for restrictions preventing it from revealing the extent of US government surveillance of the site.
Twitter argues the prohibitions are “unconstitutional” and deny its users a sufficient level of transparency.
As part of an investigation US government security agencies such as the National Security Agency often request information from sites such as Twitter or Facebook, who may then be prevented from telling their users they have received such requests.
Twitter’s lawyer Benjamin Lee said that the site was “entitled under the First Amendment” to reveal the number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders it had received.
Twitter, much like many other tech companies, aims to publish a transparency report for its users. In April the listed company submitted a draft report to the US government, but were refused permission to publish it as it contains classifies information.
The lawsuit filed to a Californian district court requests “relief from prohibitions on its speech in violation of the First Amendment”.
It states:
Twitter’s ability to respond to government statements about national security surveillance activities and to discuss the actual surveillance of Twitter users is being unconstitutionally restricted by statutes that prohibit and even criminalize a service provider’s disclosure of the number of national security letters.
Read lawyer Benjamin Lee’s blog on the matter here, or explore the full lawsuit for yourself here.

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