In what may be the biggest First Amendment case of the year, Twitter has filed suit against the Department of Justice to protect the privacy rights of its users against warrantless demands for data by the federal government. The mainstream media, in lock step with the federal government, is ignoring the case as well as the warrantless demands for data and the unconstitutional restrictions on social media companies. According to Motherboard.com,
It’s one of the more shocking and annoying paradoxes of the government’s PRISM spying program: Tech companies were forced to hand over users’ data, but couldn’t, even in broad terms, legally tell them that this was happening.
That changed back in January, when the US Department of Justice sent a letter to Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, telling the corporations the exact parameters under which it could disclose information about national security. Notably absent from the list? Twitter.
So, if you’re looking for an answer to the question posed in the headline up there, well, that’s it: Facebook, Google, and the other tech giants have already made their deal with the government and, let’s face it, it’s kind of useless.
So, Twitter is suing, and it’s asking for much more than the other companies settled for earlier this year.
“By sitting out of the settlement last January, Twitter stuck up for the little guys—those companies receiving very few national security requests,” Peter Micek, senior policy counsel at Access, a digital rights group, told me. “We hope today’s announcement is a clarion call to all tech firms, big and small, to redouble their efforts to fight against mass surveillance.”
The irony that Twitter, which holds almost no private information on its users other than private messages, is standing up for privacy rights while Facebook and Google submit to outlandish government restrictions on free speech stands as something the company should be applauded for.
Even though Twitter was not party to the letter agreement between DOJ and most other social media companies, the government told Twitter and the few other holdouts they are bound to the terms of the agreement. Twitter calls that unconstitutional repression of speech. According to the lawsuit filed in US District Court in San Francisco,
“Twitter is entitled under the First Amendment to respond to its users’ concerns and to the statements of US government officials by providing more complete information about the limited scope of US government surveillance of Twitter user accounts. The DAG Letter is not a lawful means by which Defendants can seek to enforce their unconstitutional speech restrictions.”
Other companies have been content to accept this censorship and lobby behind the scenes for small changes to the agreement, Twitter has stepped up and taken the government to court. Will we see changes from this or will the DOJ under President Obama continue to ignore the Constitution and direct orders from the courts?
We’ll be keeping an eye on this case and keeping you up to date as it winds through the legal system.