Anonymous Firms Back Twitter in FBI Fight

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Two anonymous companies are backing Twitter in a fight to publish information about government surveillance.
     Twitter sued the federal government in October last year, challenging orders that it cannot disclose how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders and FBI national security letters the company has received.
     A national security letter is a subpoena that gives the FBI access to customer data.
     Twitter, which says it’s trying to be more transparent with the public, claims the government gag orders violate the First Amendment.
     Now two companies – a telecom and an Internet company – have joined the battle. The companies, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed an amicus brief on Feb. 17 in opposition to the government’s partial motion to dismiss the case. The companies must remain anonymous because they’re not allowed to reveal that they’ve received national security letters from the FBI.
     In the brief, the companies argue that the government gag orders are an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech.
     “With [national security letters], we have prior restraints imposed at the government’s whim, without any judicial oversight or review,” EFF Legal Fellow Andrew Crocker said in a statement. “Our clients want to talk about their experience with these NSLs, but the government is unconstitutionally shielding itself from any criticism or critique of their procedures.”
     Contact Arvin Temkar at sanfran@courthousenews.com

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