US

Judge Rules Twitter Can Sue To Tell America How Much Gov’t Watches Citizens

A judge ruled Thursday that Twitter is allowed to move on with its lawsuit against the U.S. government, which seeks to allow the company to disclose federal surveillance requests.

Twitter, as well as other tech firms, wants the ability to publicize any government appeals for surveillance or collection of data in order to earn trust among users and consumers. Federal agencies argue gag orders are important to maintain the integrity of law enforcement and national security investigations.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of Oakland, Calif., wrote in an official order that the federal government hasn’t proven any “clear and present danger” if companies like Twitter were to exercise their right to discuss or reveal spying requests, Reuters reports.

“The government’s restrictions on Twitter’s speech are content-based prior restraints subject to the highest level of scrutiny under the First Amendment,” Rogers wrote, according to Reuters.

Twitter’s specific lawsuit has been going on for several years. The social media company filed the legal complaint in 2014 after Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked damning information pertaining to the spying practices of federal agencies. The main goal is to end the legal constraints tech companies have when discussing the requests known as National Security Letters (NSL). (RELATED: Will The GOP Remake Surveillance Laws After Trump Leaks?)

Google, which also regularly receives NSLs from the U.S. government, published eight of the requests in December in part of a “continued effort to increase transparency around government demands for user data.”

Many more NSLs have not been released because of official gag orders issued by the U.S. government. The federal government submitted a record number of data requests for Google users’ personal information in the second half of 2015.

Twitter’s next hearing is expected to occur sometime next month.

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