Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) finds the restrictions put on it by the federal government, regarding the disclosure of information when faced with surveillance requests, a bit concerning. Hence, it has sued the federal government for the same.
First Amendment used by Twitter
Negotiations between Twitter and the government has been taking place since past few months over the matter of expanding the kind of information that it can disclose. These negotiations have not been successful ever. So, Twitter has sued the federal government on account of violation of the First Amendment.
In its suit, the micro-blogging noted that the companies are violating the First Amendment by not telling their users how often they receive requests from government regarding sharing of user data for the purpose of national security.
“It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of US government officials by providing information about the scope of US government surveillance,” Twitter’s lawyer, Ben Lee, wrote in a blog post
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All this disclosure issue started after Edward Snowden leaked the information about spying by the government and the PRISM program by the government. The tech companies, who were, wanted to add to the statistics about national security requests. The reports only included the number of disclosure requests for the data received each year by a tech company.
However, the reports did not carry the so-called National Security Letters or a publishing transparency reports court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. Hence, the public could not get a real idea and had to make speculations that their personal information was shared with the government with no restrictions at all.
Not only Twitter but other companies including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Dropbox have been raising their voice against the government, but the move made by Twitter is a bolder one. These companies made use of First Amendment for getting the permission to disclose to their customers the requests they receive from the government for the disclosure of information for national security. Recently, Apple took steps that make encrypting user data impossible even for the company itself, thereby nullifying US government requests.
Even though, Twitter gets relatively fewer requests compared to firms like Google, the American Civil Liberties Union believe the act from Twitter might encourage others to follow the same.