Twitter Says Govt Limits Set for Transparency Reports Violate First Amendment, Considers Lawsuit

Twitter doesn't believe that reporting FISA request numbers in bands of 1,000 is enough

Twitter is none too pleased with the new changes made by the US government to the policy regarding disclosures of government data requests. While the modifications are a step forward, they are nowhere near what the tech industry was hoping for.

“For the disclosure of national security requests to be meaningful to our users, it must be within a range that provides sufficient precision to be meaningful. Allowing Twitter, or any other similarly situated company, to only disclose national security requests within an overly broad range seriously undermines the objective of transparency. In addition, we also want the freedom to disclose that we do not receive certain types of requests, if, in fact, we have not received any,” writes Twitter’s Jeremy Kessel, manager for global legal policy.

He is referring, of course, to the fact that the US government is only letting companies report numbers in bands of 1,000, which makes it rather impossible to create an accurate image of the situation.

“Unfortunately, we are currently prohibited from providing this level of transparency. We think the government’s restriction on our speech not only unfairly impacts our users’ privacy, but also violates our First Amendment right to free expression and open discussion of government affairs,” states the company’s message.

So, the company is once more pressing the Department of Justice to allow more transparency and has proposed changes that will make future disclosures concerning national security requests more relevant for users.

“We are also considering legal options we may have to seek to defend our First Amendment rights,” Twitter wrote.

To make matters worse, Twitter reveals that over the past several years, there have been increasingly more data requests, both for metadata and for actual user-generated content, both public and private.

Twitter isn’t the only company displeased with the limitations set by the US government. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo have also expressed their concerns.

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