Jan 28, 2017

Twitter publishes two national security letters

In 2015 and 2016, Twitter was twice compelled by the FBI to disclose information about two users — and the gag orders on these requests have been lifted, the company said on Friday. The company has now notified the two users and provided them with the national security letters and the information it collected about their respective accounts, which was much less than was originally requested.

The debate: The U.S. government argued gag orders on these requests were necessary because providing more detailed reporting than what Twitter is authorized to release would make the information classified, and therefore it would not be protected under the First Amendment.

"We would like a meaningful opportunity to challenge government restrictions when 'classification' prevents speech on issues of public importance," writes Twitter in a blog post.

What's next: Twitter is currently in the midst of a lawsuit against the government (Twitter v. Lynch), seeking to get more freedom to discuss national security requests it receives. The next hearing for the case is scheduled for February 14.

  • Internet companies have increasingly fought for the right to disclose government and law enforcement requests for user information since the exposure of surveillance programs like PRISM in 2013.
  • Microsoft is currently suing the Department of Justice, arguing that it should be able to tell customers when the government requests information about them.

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