Twitter Inc. announced Tuesday that it was suing a number of federal government agencies as it seeks to publish their requests for surveillance and data about its users. The FBI, Attorney General’s office and Justice Department were all named in the suit, which claims Twitter’s First Amendment right to free speech is being violated.

Twitter has so far been prevented from publishing a full transparency report that would disclose whether it had been forced to hand over personal details or allow the government to use its service to collect information about people who use it. The suit was filed in federal court in northern California.

“Our ability to speak has been restricted by laws that prohibit and even criminalize a service provider like us from disclosing the exact number of national security letters (“NSLs”) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) court orders received,” Twitter said in a blog post, “even if that number is zero."



It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance -- including what types of legal process have not been received. We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges.”

Christopher Soghoian, an activist with the American Civil Liberties Union, had already taken to Twitter to commend the social network on its decision to take the fight to court. Soghoian criticized other tech companies such as Google Inc. for failing to do the same.