Twitter, in the tech industry’s fight to shed some info on the government’s surveillance practices, fought on a new front by filing a suit that states the FBI violated the company’s First Amendment rights. The 19-page said that the FBI is preventing it from disclosing how often it receives secret orders under countless measures created wrongfully through the Patriot Act.
A spokesperson said Twitter asked the FBI earlier to add various numbers in relation to National Security Letters used by the FBI, and so-called FISA letters used by the NSA in its semi-yearly Report. Despite this, they said the agency refused its request in September, even though they requested them in April and did not even provide explanations as to what was publishable.
The lawsuit cites the continual controversy over surveillance of tech companies exposed by Edward Snowden such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook. The tech companies mentioned had sued the fed in 2013. They had agreed to drop the lawsuit in early 2014 after reaching an agreement with the DOJ that was celebreated at the time by President Obama as a way for companies to make information more transparent and public than ever before.
In the agreement companies had been given two options for publishing a limited amount of information about NSA letters but Twitter says it is not bound by that since it was not included in the list of tech companies involved.
Twitter’s complaint is that the FBI has put an illegal restriction to its free speech rights by putting various gag orders in place and Twitter claims that the gag orders are not based in justice because Twitter is not seeking to inform the targets of government investigations, but simply to disclose the existence of such investigations.
In any case, If the lawsuit takes place, it will be another important step in shedding information on the sophisticated and complex surveillance functions that the government uses to monitor the users of Twitter and the companies listed above that deal in big-data.