Twitter Details 2 FBI National Security Letters

Cloudflare, Google, the Internet Archive and Yahoo recently took similar actions on NSLs following FBI clearance

Twitter revealed that it received two national security letters from the FBI, in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Associate general counsel, global law enforcement Elizabeth Banker announced in a blog post that the FBI recently lifted its gag order on the two NSLs, adding that Cloudflare, Google, the Internet Archive and Yahoo recently took similar actions on NSLs following FBI clearance.

Banker wrote:

We have provided each of the account holders with copies of the relevant NSLs (certain information redacted to protect privacy), as well as the account data we were compelled to produce. While the actual NSLs request a large amount of data, Twitter provides a very limited set of data in response to NSLs consistent with federal law and interpretive guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice.

We continue to believe that reporting in government-mandated bands does not provide meaningful transparency to the public or those using our service. However, the government argues that any numerical reporting more detailed than the bands in the USA Freedom Act would be classified and as such not protected by the First Amendment. They further argue that Twitter is not entitled to obtain information from the government about the processes followed in classifying a version Twitter’s 2013 Transparency Report or in classifying/declassifying decisions associated with the allowed bands. We would like a meaningful opportunity to challenge government restrictions when “classification” prevents speech on issues of public importance.

She also provided an update on ongoing lawsuit Twitter vs. Lynch, in which the social network sued the U.S. government for the right to publish its full transparency report:

Twitter remains unsatisfied with restrictions on our right to speak more freely about national security requests we may receive. We continue to push for the legal ability to speak more openly on this topic in our lawsuit against the U.S. government, Twitter vs. Lynch.

Our next hearing in the Lynch case is scheduled for Feb. 14. Concurrently, Twitter is using the statutory means provided in the USA Freedom Act to seek more transparency into similar NSL requests, and it will provide updates as they become available. You can read more information about our commitment to protecting free expression in our Help Center.

Readers: Should Twitter be able to release more information about NSLs and other requests for user data by governments?