A U.S. judge from Northern California ruled on Thursday that Twitter could move forward with a lawsuit that seeks to free technology companies to speak more openly about surveillance requests they receive from the U.S. government.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern California, US district ruled in favor of Twitter’s motion against a Department of Justice request for summary judgement and to put an end to the three-year-old lawsuit.
The U.S. government had failed to show the kind of “clear and present danger” that could possibly justify restraints Twitter’s constitutional right to talk about surveillance requests, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, said in a written order. Now, the social network’s lawsuit over their constitutionality now moves ahead.
“The government’s restrictions on Twitter’s speech are content-based prior restraints subject to the highest level of scrutiny under the First Amendment,” Rogers wrote.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Twitter says the inability to write the precise number of government requests violates its First Amendment rights, which has certain rights including freedom of speech. On the other hand, the DOJ and the FBI argue that allowing companies to reveal them would harm national security.
However, Rogers wrote Thursday that “the Government has not met its high burden to overcome the strong presumption of unconstitutionality on the record before the Court.
Also, Rogers wrote in the court order that “the Government has not presented evidence, beyond a generalized explanation, to demonstrate that disclosure of the information in the Draft Transparency Report would present such a grave and serious threat of damage to national security as to meet the applicable strict scrutiny standard.”
Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey retweeted a company statement: “Twitter is continuing its fight for more transparency under the First Amendment.”
Lawsuit on tech companies
Twitter filed the lawsuit in 2014 after revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of U.S. spying.
The lawsuit is aimed at ending legal limits on details that tech companies can provide about U.S. national security requests. Currently, companies can reveal the number of requests they have received, but only within a range, such as 0-499 in a six-month period.
Twitter Stock Perfomance
Twitter’s shares was up 0.59% to $17.92 on Thursday session after the firm won the lawsuit. The shares opened at $17.65, with a session high of $18.58 and a session low of $17.63. The stock has a market capitalization of $13.17 billion.
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