For months, Twitter has tried to negotiate with the government to expand the kind of information that it and other companies are allowed to disclose. But it failed. Today, Twitter asserts in its suit that preventing the company from telling users how often the government submits national security requests for user data is a violation of the First Amendment.
The move goes a step beyond a challenge filed by Google and other companies last year that also sought permission on First Amendment grounds to disclose how often it receives national security requests for data. In the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks about government spying and the so-called PRISM program, the companies sought to add statistics about national security requests to transparency reports that some of them were already publishing. Up to that point, the reports had revealed only the number of general law enforcement requests for data that the companies received each year, not so-called National Security Letters the companies received for data or other national security requests submitted with a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court.