Twitter will be allowed to move forward with a lawsuit against the United States government after a ruling by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers as reported by Reuters.
According to the judge, the United States government has failed to show a "clear and present danger" that would allow a restriction of Twitter's first amendment rights to talk about any surveillance requests that they receive. One of the legal mechanisms covered by the lawsuit are National Security Letters, a particular piece of legal paperwork that is discussed in detail by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. National Security Letters permit the government to demand information about a company's customers and, perhaps most critically, legally gags them from speaking about even having received a letter. Additionally, the letters do not require that the government provide a warrant.
Typically, a company will only be able to speak in vague terms regarding how many NSLs they have received. Facebook, for example, stated that they received between 0 and 499 NSLs in the last six months of 2016. The lawsuit aims to put an end to these limitations so that companies can speak more openly about the type of information that the U.S. federal government is demanding of them under the umbrella of national security.
Twitter filed the lawsuit in 2014 after the revelations put forth by Edward Snowden showcasing the extent of United States government surveillance on people around the world and within the country itself. A hearing for this case has been scheduled for next month.
What do you think of Twitter suing the United States federal government in order to be able to disclose surveillance requests that they receive? Do you think that this will ultimately be a good move to protect their userbase or do you think it could potentially jeopardize important intelligence operations? Let us know in the comments below!