Twitter users targeted by government for “national security”

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January 30, 2017 by Paul Dughi

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Read the actual order letters after the jump.

For the first time, Twitter is able to speak openly about national security requests it received about surveillance and requests for data on Twitter account holders.

Even though the requests date back to 2015 and 2016, they were accompanied by a “gag order” which legally prohibited the social media company from talking about them. Now, the gag orders have been lifted.

The two cases involved two specific Twitter users. Both, Twitter says, have been notified as well as told what data was requested.

You can read the actual orders by clicking on these:

“We’re encouraged by the lifting of these two gag orders,” Elizabeth Banker, Associate General Counsel, Global Law Enforcement at Twitter wrote in a blog post. “However, Twitter remains unsatisfied with restrictions on our right to speak more freely about national security requests we may receive.”

To that end, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the government, Twitter v. Lynch. The next hearing is in mid-February.

“We continue to believe that reporting in government-mandated bands (sic) does not provide meaningful transparency to the public or those using our service.

However, the government argues that any numerical reporting more detailed than the bands in the USA Freedom Act would be classified and as such not protected by the First Amendment. They further argue that Twitter is not entitled to obtain information from the government about the processes followed in classifying a version Twitter’s 2013 Transparency Report or in classifying/declassifying decisions associated with the allowed bands.

We would like a meaningful opportunity to challenge government restrictions when “classification” prevents speech on issues of public importance.” –Elizabeth Banker, Associate General Counsel, Global Law Enforcement at Twitter

Here are the actual requests (below). You can read the lawsuit filed here.

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