Twitter's surveillance transparency lawsuit against the United States government was allowed by a competent court on Thursday, with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers providing the San Francisco, California-based social media giant with the approval to move forward with its motion against the current administration. Twitter is suing in a likely effort to discourage certain government requests related to surveillance that are served with gag orders, arguing how the proceedings related to such demands go against the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and consequently endanger the guaranteed right to the freedom of speech. The original lawsuit was filed in 2014 as a direct reaction to a set of leaks published by Edward Snowden, ex-contractor of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that disclosed details about the government's spying endeavors in a move that continues to polarize the American public to this date.
Twitter isn't seeking to completely eliminate specific data requests but is simply asking for being given more freedom in regards to disclosing its dealings with the administration to the general public. The current regulatory framework is rather strict in regards to the information that tech companies can reveal about data requests from the government, with the firms usually being only allowed to disclose the number of requests in a certain period, so long as that figure isn't specific and is within a larger range. Twitter's hypothetical win in the upcoming legal battle would set a precedent for all tech companies in the country that deal with government data requests. The lawsuit is specifically aimed at the so-called national security letters that seek user data without a warrant and are said to be a common federal technique of accessing communications information from private citizens while circumventing courts.
Twitter's lawsuit against the U.S. government is expected to be tried in Oakland, California, though a specific hearing schedule has yet to be determined. It's currently unclear how long the situation may take to be resolved, though some industry watchers predict the case to last for years. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently in the process of reviewing Judge Gonzalez Rogers's decision, according to the agency's spokesperson, who implied that a more detailed comment on the matter may follow later this year. Twitter recently sued another government agency after being pressured by federal authorities over what it deemed were illegal user data requests, though the company dropped its motion by now.