Court rules in favor of Twitter in fight against U.S. government for transparency
Defending freedom of speech continues to be Twitter’s strong game.
The company’s ongoing lawsuit against the U.S. government for the right to publish aggregated data requests had a new development in favor of the 140-character network on Thursday.
A federal judge in California ruled against the U.S. government’s arguments that Twitter should not be allowed to report the precise number of data requests in their biannual transparency reports, ruling that the government’s reasons are unsubstantiated.
“We welcome today’s decision. This is an important issue for anyone who believes in a strong First Amendment, and we will continue with our efforts to share our complete Transparency Report,” a Twitter spokesperson told Mashable in an emailed statement.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and General Counsel Vijaya Gadde celebrated on Twitter, of course:
The [Govs] restrictions on Twitters speech are content-based prior restraints subject to the highest level of scrutiny under the 1st Amend
Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) July 6, 2017
Back in 2014, when the case started, Twitter took issue with a deal struck by the U.S. Department of Justice and Google, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Microsoft. That agreement stated the tech companies could not legally publish the precise number of requests from the government, but instead could only say a range.
Twitter argued (and still argues) that these limits violate the company’s First Amendment rights.
The U.S. government, on the other hand, says that these precise numbers are a national security risk.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled in favor of Twitter Thursday.
The Government has not sufficiently explained how a restriction on reporting, beyond the bands in section 1874, could be characterized as narrowly tailored to prevent a national security risk of sufficient gravity to justify the restraint, either in general or with respect to Twitter specifically,” the new order reads.
Twitter holds the distinction of not being one of the tech companies that simply handed data over to government, prior to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaking the practice.
This isn’t the only case where Twitter has battled the government for users’ rights with data privacy. In April, Twitter sued the U.S. government for demanding the records of an anti-Trump account.
According to Ars Technica, the next hearing is scheduled for August 14 at the federal court in Oakland, California.