Twitter Hints at Legal Action to Release More Data on Government Requests
Twitter said Thursday it was considering its legal options in its effort to release more detailed information about the requests for information it receives from U.S. agencies.
Company officials “have pressed the U.S. Department of Justice to allow greater transparency” but are also “considering legal options we may have to seek to defend our First Amendment rights,” the company said in blog post announcing the release of its latest report on government requests and takedown notices.
Other Internet companies have also been pressing Obama administration officials for more freedom in releasing detailed figures about the number and types of requests they’ve received for information about their users.
Earlier this week, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and LinkedIn released new information about the number and types of data requests they received last year, after reaching a new agreement with federal officials to release more meaningful data. Twitter wasn’t part of the legal settlement that allowed those companies to release that information.
Twitter suggested that the agreement didn’t go far enough, saying in its blog post that 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.”
Under the federal government’s new rules, Internet companies can only disclose to the nearest 1,000 how many National Security Letters or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court requests they receive.
“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,” wrote Jeremy Kessel, Twitter’s manager of global legal policy, in the blog post.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s latest transparency report for the second half of last year showed government requests for user information continues to grow and U.S. law enforcement authorities continue to represent the bulk of requests. U.S. officials make up almost 60 percent of all requests received in the second half of 2013. Japan comes in second with 15 percent of requests.