NEW YORK – Twitter sued the government today seeking to make public more information about how much user data it is being forced to hand over on national security grounds.

The government says that Twitter’s transparency reports can address surveillance orders like National Security Letters only in very broad terms – for example, by counting them to the nearest thousand. The company’s lawsuit challenges several secrecy provisions in the relevant laws as unconstitutional.

Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, had this reaction:

“Twitter is doing the right thing by challenging this tangled web of secrecy rules and gag orders. If these laws prohibit Twitter from disclosing basic information about government surveillance, then these laws violate the First Amendment. The Constitution doesn’t permit the government to impose so broad a prohibition on the publication of truthful speech about government conduct. We hope that other technology companies will now follow Twitter’s lead. Technology companies have an obligation to protect their customers’ sensitive information against overbroad government surveillance, and to be candid with their customers about how their information is being used and shared.”

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