Compliance Management, Privacy, Threat Management

Twitter asks for additional transparency on gov’t data requests

Twitter is pushing back at the U.S. government and asking for permission to share even more information with its users regarding government data requests.

In late January, following President Obama's call for more transparency, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began allowing major tech companies to disclose the total number of FISA court orders they receive annually as well as the number of affected users by those requests. However, according to a blog post by Twitter's Manager for Global Legal Policy Jeremy Kessel, it's not enough.

In the post titled “Fighting for more #transparency,” he said that while the new rules are a “step in the right direction,” tech companies such as Twitter should have the freedom to share even more information with their users, not only ones during an “overly broad range.”

According to the new rules proposed by the DOJ, there are two options that companies can choose from when reporting on government requests. While one allows for a more generalized aggregate reporting in bands of 250, the other allows for disclosing a greater breakdown of information, reporting in bands of a thousand.

Kessel believes that the information shared should not have such a narrow scope, which he believes currently creates a sense of mistrust among its users.

“Unfortunately, we are currently prohibited from providing this level of transparency,” Kessel wrote. “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.”

The courts could be involved as some point, as Kessel mentioned that Twitter may consider legal options in order to “defend our First Amendment rights.”

Following the DOJ's agreement, other major tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, LInkedin, and Facebook, have recently released updated transparency reports.

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