Twitter announced that it is suing the Justice Department and the FBI over the restrictions placed on its ability to disclose information about the surveillance orders it receives from intelligence agencies violates its First Amendment rights.
Ben Lee, a Twitter vice president wrote in a blog post, “As part of our latest transparency report released July, we described how we were being prohibited from reporting on the actual scope of surveillance of Twitter users by the U.S. government.” “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 — even if that number is zero.”
Lee also wrote, “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.”
“So, today, we have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to publish our full Transparency Report, and asking the court to declare these restrictions on our ability to speak about government surveillance as 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. You can read our filing with the U.S. District Court of Northern California in PDF form here.”