• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo


Twitter sues US government over surveillance rights


Twitter has sued the US government for restricting the micro-blogging site from sharing online government surveillance reports with its users.

In its 19-page complaint filed in US District Court in California, Twitter stated that the company wants to report data in a way that reflects the “limited scope” of US government surveillance of Twitter accounts.

The government’s position, the complaint said, “forces Twitter either to engage in speech that has been pre-approved by government officials or else to refrain from speaking altogether”.

In a post online, Twitter vice president Ben Lee said: “It is our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of US government officials by providing information about the scope of US government surveillance-including what types of legal process have not been received”.

The San Francisco-based firm had prepared a transparency report and submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) April 1 this year, seeking pre-publication review.

Twitter wanted to tell users how many National Security Letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders it received from July 1 to Dec 31, 2013, Forbes reported.

On September 9, the Justice Department declined the request, saying that information in the report contained classified information and could not be publicly released.

Twitter’s lawsuit was filed after months of effort to reach an out-of-court agreement, according to the complaint.

In January, the Department of Justice gave permission to Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo to publish such information.

The US Department of Justice said it was reviewing Twitter’s complaint, the report added.