Twitter wants to disclose more about national security requests, sues the government to do soBy Tim Schiesser
Twitter has decided that it wants to share more information about United States national security requests with the public, and are suing the government to gain permission to do so. The social media giant alleges that its First Amendment rights to free speech are violated by current policies which prevent it from specifically detailing security requests.
Under current rules and regulations, Twitter is allowed to publish vague information on the amount of national security requests it receives. Twitter argues that revealing it has received, say, 50 to 10,000 national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders is too broad, and isn't providing its users with the transparency that they deserve.
Twitter is asking the court to find that restrictions on the ability to disclose information about government surveillance are unconstitutional. The company aims to publish their entire Transparency Report, which would list the exact (or close to exact) number of national security requests it has received, even if that number is zero.
Before going to the courts, Twitter attempted to convince the government to let them be more transparent relating to national security letters. However, after lengthy discussions, the company was unsurprisingly unable to sway them into releasing "even a redacted version of the [Transparency Report]".
The lawsuit from Twitter comes after increasing pressure from tech companies wanting to be more specific about government surveillance on their networks. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn and others continue to release transparency reports detailing the number of security requests made to them, but like Twitter, they are restricted to releasing figures in broad ranges.
If Twitter is successful in getting these rules invalidated, it might give all tech companies the ability to be more forthcoming with their users about surveillance issues.