The “big five” agreement
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a joint statement that they are now willing to allow companies to “disclose more information than ever before to their customers.”
That is to say, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will finally be able to say something. Until recently, companies were essentially gagged from saying anything. Now they can say very little by revealing how many FBI and FISA requests they have received within the nearest 1,000. Quite literally, the least they can do. Yet they seem magnanimous about this for some reason.
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“While this aggregate data was properly classified until today, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with other departments and agencies, has determined that the public interest in disclosing this information now outweighs the national security concerns that required its classification,” Holder and Clapper said.
Enough of what Holder and Clapper say, never mind that they sound like a vaudeville porn duo. Let’s hear what Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has to say….”That’s not enough.” And Twitter is prepared to sue over it.
Twitter says that’s not enough
In a blog post today, the head of global legal policy published a letter on Twitter’s blog that made it clear that Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) wasn’t happy with the agreement the big five hammered out last week.
“We think the government’s restriction on our speech not only unfairly impacts our users’ privacy, but also violates our First Amendment right to free expression and open discussion of government affairs,” Jeremy Kessel wrote.
“Therefore, we have pressed the U.S. Department of Justice to allow greater transparency, and proposed future disclosures concerning national security requests that would be more meaningful to Twitter’s users. We are also considering legal options we may have to seek to defend our First Amendment rights.”
While I don’t “tweet”, I’m certain I’m not alone when I say job well done Twitter and thank you Mr. Kessel.
“Allowing Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), or any other similarly situated company, to only disclose national security requests within an overly broad range seriously undermines the objective of transparency.” Kessel continued, “In addition, we also want the freedom to disclose that we do not receive certain types of requests, if, in fact, we have not received any.”
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) also stated that over 45 countries have asked them for information in the last two years and that just shy of 60% of these came from the United States.