recommended reading

Twitter Breaks Rank, Threatens to Fight NSA Gag Orders

Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com

Twitter threatened to launch a legal battle with the Obama administration on Thursday over gag orders that prevent it from disclosing information about surveillance of its users.

The statement puts Twitter at odds with other technology giants including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook, who all struck a deal with the government last month to drop their lawsuits in exchange for looser secrecy rules.

"We think the government's restriction on our speech not only unfairly impacts our users' privacy, but also violates our First Amendment right to free expression and open discussion of government affairs," Jeremy Kessel, Twitter's manager of global legal policy, wrote in a blog post.

He said the company has pressed the Justice Department for greater transparency and is also "considering legal options we may have to seek to defend our First Amendment rights."

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook all sued the Justice Department last year, saying their rights were being violated by legal orders barring them from revealing statistics about National Security Agency surveillance of their users. The companies all regularly report on police requests for user data, but the U.S. government severely restricted their ability to discuss national security demands. Twitter, which is largely a public social media service, was not involved in the legal battle.

After several months of negotiations, the tech companies and the Justice Department reached an agreement last month. The Obama administration agreed to allow the companies to reveal more information than ever before, but they were still limited to disclosing the total number of National Security Letters within bands of 1,000. In exchange, the companies agreed to abandon their lawsuits, although they said they would continue to push Congress for better transparency.

But Twitter said the expanded disclosure rights aren't enough.

"While this agreement is a step in the right direction, these ranges do not provide meaningful or sufficient transparency for the public, especially for entities that do not receive a significant number of—or any—national security requests," Kessel said.

Twitter made the statement along with releasing its latest data on police requests for information. The company revealed that it received 833 police requests covering 1,323 accounts in the United States in the second half of 2013. Twitter said it complied with 69 percent of the requests.

The company chose not to disclose national security requests for data, suggesting that it received so few that identifying a broad range would mislead the public.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.