Twitter Out of Characters in U.S. Gag Order Fracas

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Twitter must show why it should be allowed to disclose classified information on government surveillance, a federal judge ruled Monday.
     U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers dismissed Twitter’s First Amendment claim against the prohibition of releasing data on the extent of surveillance requests, saying, “The First Amendment does not permit a person subject to secrecy obligations to disclose classified national security information.”
     Twitter had sought to publish a “transparency report” with data on how many requests it received for user information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or National Security Letters.
     In its 2014 lawsuit, it also claimed the government even threatened prosecution under the Espionage Act should it publish the report.
     Rogers noted that Twitter has already conceded that the aggregate data is classified, and did not argue against the reasoning for that classification.
     “In the absence of a challenge to the decisions classifying that information, Twitter’s constitutional challenges simply do not allege viable claims,” she wrote.
     Twitter has until May 24 to challenge the classification in an amended complaint.
     Rogers also refused to transfer the case to a FISA court, rejecting the government’s claim that she should yield jurisdiction since Twitter’s lawsuit disputes decisions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Committee, which imposes FISA orders.
     In a statement, Twitter spokesperson Nu Wexler said, “We will continue to evaluate today’s order, but we welcome the decision not to transfer our transparency case to the FISA Court.”

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