Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Twitter Sues U.S. Government Over First Amendment Rights

© nbcbayarea.com
Media Post | Oct 7, 2014 | Laurie Sullivan

Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, so it can release more information about national security requests. The company wants to publish its full transparency report. It alleges that its First Amendment rights to free speech are being violated by rules that prevent it from disclosing the quantity of national security requests it receives.

Twitter can publish the number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders it receives between "0 and 999," and calls the inability to speak about the government surveillance "unconstitutional" under the First Amendment. "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is already considering the constitutionality of the non-disclosure provisions of the NSL law later this week," Twitter Lawyer Ben Lee writes an a blog post Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court of Northern California, follows an agreement between the U.S. government and Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo -- but not Twitter -- about court orders they receive related to surveillance. While the rule also applies to Twitter, the company wants to invalidate the agreement that prevents being published the number of national security requests.

U.S. government officials told Twitter Sept. 9, that a draft Transparency Report submitted to the U.S. government around April 1, 2014, was not sufficient . The information contained in the transparency report is classified and cannot be publicly released, because it does not comply with the government's framework for reporting data about government requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the National Security Letter statutes.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, the DOJ agency, James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI agency of the United States; and the FBI agency.

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