Twitter files landmark lawsuit against US government over Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders

Andrew Sadauskas /

Twitter has filed a landmark lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of laws prohibiting it from fully disclosing the number of requests for information it receives from intelligence agencies.

In a statement on Twitter’s official blog, Twitter vice president of legal, Ben Lee, said the court case will challenge prohibitions against the social network revealing the exact number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders it receives.

“It’s 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 U.S. government surveillance – including what types of legal process have not been received,” Lee said.

Lee claims the court case comes after many months of discussions in which Twitter was not able to convince the US Department of Justice and the FBI to allow it to publish even a redacted version of a report showing the requests.

The case has already attracted the attention of high profile civil liberties groups including the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU’s deputy legal director, Jameel Jaffer, issued a statement commending Twitter for the lawsuit.

“The Constitution doesn’t permit the government to impose so broad a prohibition on the publication of truthful speech about government conduct,” Jaffer said.

Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.