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."
— Twitter (@twitter) October 7, 2014
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.
Why did Google and the other tech companies take DOJ's weak sauce deal over NSL stats? Good on Twitter for fighting.
â€” Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) October 7, 2014