Twitter sues US Department of Justice and FBI over right to disclose surveillance requests

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Twitter is suing the US Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation over restrictions it claims are unconstitutional over what it can disclose to users about government surveillance requests.

The San Francisco-based media company filed a lawsuit in a California court arguing that it was unable to provide users with the transparency they deserved due to limits imposed by the US government.

Government officials have long been able to access phone network and internet traffic in order to track criminals and terrorists.

In recent years, the FBI has sought to persuade technology companies including Google and Skype as well as Twitter to hand over information such as emails, video chats and photographs.

Most tech firms prefer to provide information only if they receive a court order, and Twitter wants to be able to keep customers informed about such government activity.

In legal papers lodged at the US District Court of Northern California, Twitter Inc applied for the right to publish its full annual “transparency report,” which documents all government requests for information about users.

Along with other internet companies, including Google and Microsoft Corp, Twitter is prevented from disclosing how many national security requests it receives, even if no demands are made.

Twitter claimed that the policy was in breach of the US constitutional right to free speech, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In a blogpost, Twitter said it was “asking the court to declare these restrictions on our ability to speak about government surveillance as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.”

It argued that the government was inhibiting Twitter’s ability to: “respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of US government officials by providing information about the scope of US government surveillance.”

The FBI and Department of Justice did not comment on the Twitter lawsuit.

Microsoft Corp, Google Inc. and others have already applied for permission to share more information on surveillance requests with the public.

The US government has said that it will publish the total number of national security requests for customer data annually.

Source: The Telegraph

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