Judge rules on Twitter’s lawsuit over national security requests

A federal judge issued a decision on Thursday to allow Twitter to move forward with a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and FBI regarding restrictions that social media sites face on disclosing the number of national security requests they receive from the government.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California dismissed the government’s motion for an expedited decision on the case and ordered that security clearances be given to attorneys for Twitter.

“We are continuing our fight for more transparency at @Twitter under the First Amendment!” Vijaya Gadde, the company’s general counsel, tweeted.

The lawsuit was filed by Twitter in 2014 and contends that the restrictions the company faces on disclosing national security requests are unconstitutional.

In her decision, Rogers ruled that there was a failure by the government to persuade the court that Twitter’s arguments should be dismissed.

“The Court finds the Government has not met its high burden to overcome the strong presumption of unconstitutionality on the record before the Court,” the judge wrote in her decision. “The Government’s restrictions on Twitter’s speech are content-based prior restraints subject to the highest level of scrutiny under the First Amendment.”

Current law prohibits internet and social media sites from revealing the specific number of information requests they receive from the government about their users. Many major social media companies publish transparency reports in which they may only disclose the number of requests they receive by providing a range.

In a transparency report issued in 2017, Microsoft revealed that it had received between 0 and 499 national security requests in the second half of 2016.

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