The social network is asking for greater freedom to report government security requests. It discloses only those national security requests which the US Department of Justice allows, but such practice hampers meaningful or sufficient transparency for the public.
The company claimed that allowing Twitter or any entity to disclose only national security requests within an overly broad range could seriously undermine the objective of transparency. As for the company’s latest transparency report, it contains 2 years of information covering government requests for account data along with copyright associated requests like takedown notices.
According to the statistics, within the last 2 years requests for account data have increased 66% and impacted more than 6,400 accounts out of the company’s 230 million active users, while coming from over 45 countries. The government of the United States accounted for 59% of all requests.
The Department of Justice has reached an agreement with a number of communications giants, including Twitter, to allow the disclosure of national security requests of user information in very large ranges. However, the disclosure of some types of requests remains prohibited. Twitter claims that the government’s restriction on speech not just unfairly impacts ordinary people’s privacy, but also violates the First Amendment right to free expression and open discussion of government affairs.
The company insists that transparency on the usage of information and government requests is very important for building and maintaining user trust, along with defending free speech. Therefore Twitter keeps pressing the American Department of Justice to allow greater transparency and proposed future disclosures about national security requests which should be more meaningful to Internet users. The company is also considering legal options it may have to seek to defend its First Amendment rights.
The company joins a long line of technology firms fighting against state restrictions on the disclosure reports. In the meantime, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Yahoo have already released transparency reports highlighting American surveillance requests last week.