After several months of fruitless negotiations with the government, Twitter has filed a lawsuit which is triggered by the government's effort to curb the company's right to reveal its surveillance program.

The escalating issue reflects how the Internet industry fights against government gag orders on disclosing a private user's information.

In July, Twitter disclosed that it received more than 2,000 requests for its users' information in the past six months, which included requests made by several governments on a global scale. It has noted that the requests increased 46 percent. More than 60 percent of the requests were allegedly sourced from the U.S. government.  

The microblogging site, which has its headquarters based in San Francisco, filed suit against the FBI and the Department of Justice on Oct. 7. It alleges that both offices have unconstitutionally restricted the company with statutes that don't allow and even prosecute public disclosure of such requests.

Twitter plans to come up with a full transparency report that will thoroughly discuss the details on the kind and number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders and national security letters that the government has sent to the company.

"It's our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users' concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance," said Benjamin Lee, Twitter's legal counsel. "We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges."

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S District Court's Northern District of California, further demands that the court should declare the restrictions as unconstitutional which shall be based under the First Amendment. Twitter made it clear that the lawsuit is part of the company's broader push for surveillance reform that shall be enforced effectively through legislation. One such legislation is the USA Freedom Act, which is pending in the Senate.

"This is an important issue for anyone who believes in a strong First Amendment, and we hope to be able to share our complete transparency report," said Twitter in a blog post. The company added that it has tried to gain the level of transparency that users deserve without needing to enter litigation, but it has failed.

Twitter is just one of the tech companies that has asked the federal government for the right to disclose more detailed data on surveillance requests but instead has been rebuffed. The other tech companies include Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.