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Twitter Threatens Legal Action For More Transparency Around National Security Requests
In conjunction with the release of its latest transparency reports, Twitter announced today it was pressing the US Department of Justice for more transparency around national security requests, and is considering legal options to defend its First Amendment rights.
Twitter applauded the agreement made last week between the Department of Justice and various communication providers allowing greater disclosure around national security requests in “very large” ranges, but said it wasn’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.
Because of government regulations, Twitter is only allowed to disclose national security requests within an overly broad range. Twitter claims such restrictions, “seriously undermines the objective of transparency” and limits the company’s free speech:
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 the open discussion of government affairs.
According to Twitter, the site has received a 66 percent increase in request for account information from more than 45 countries over the past two years, with the majority of requests – 59 percent per its latest transparency report – from the US government.
Twitter’s latest transparency report revealed the site had received a total of 1,410 information requests between July and December 31 of last year. The US led with the most requests at 833, followed by Japan with 213 requests, and Saudi Arabia with 110 requests.
France submitted the largest number of removal requests to Twitter between July and December of last year, with 306 of the 352 requests from French government agencies, police or others.
Twitter’s transparency report also included an overview of total DMCA takedown notices the site received during the later half of last year.