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Twitter Sues FBI, Justice Department for Right to Disclose Surveillance Requests

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Twitter wants its users to know how often the government has requested information for surveillance purposes.

The Associated Press reports that Twitter is suing the FBI and Justice Department in hopes of getting permission from a judge to release the information.

It’s currently against the law for companies to disclose how many national security requests they receive.

Twitter said the First Amendment should apply to the disclosure so the San Francisco-based company can “”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.”

“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,” Ben Lee, Twitter’s vice president of legal, wrote in a blog post.

The ACLU hopes other companies join Twitter.

“We hope that other technology companies will now follow Twitter’s lead,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. “Technology companies have an obligation to protect their customers’ sensitive information against overbroad government surveillance, and to be candid with their customers about how their information is being used and shared.”


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