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Federal judge rules against Twitter revealing DOJ surveillance requests
Federal judge rules against Twitter revealing DOJ surveillance requests

A federal judge ruled Friday against Twitter revealing the scope of Department of Justice (DOJ) surveillance requests. The suit concerned Twitter’s Draft Transparency Report that describes the amount of security processes that Twitter received from the DOJ between July 1, 2013, and December 31, 2013.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers decided the case. Rogers concluded that the government’s refusal to release the report was “narrowly tailored” to the government’s legitimate interest in protecting national security. This interest adequately outweighed Twitter’s First Amendment claim.

Rogers explained her reasoning in her opinion:

The [Government’s] declarations explain the gravity of the risks inherent in disclosure of the information that the Government has prohibited Twitter from stating in its Draft Transparency Report, including a sufficiently specific explanation of the reasons disclosure of mere aggregate numbers, even years after the relevant time period in the Draft Transparency Report, could be expected to give rise to grave or imminent harm to the national security. The Court finds that the declarations contain sufficient factual detail to justify the Government’s classification of the aggregate information in Twitter’s 2014 Draft Transparency Report on the grounds that the information would be likely to lead to grave or imminent harm to the national security, and that no more narrow tailoring of the restrictions can be made.

Twitter submitted its Draft Transparency Report to the DOJ for review on April 1, 2014. The DOJ has denied the report’s release since, citing concerns over classified content. Consequently, Twitter brought suit on October 7, 2014, alleging that the DOJ violated the company’s First Amendment rights by denying the report’s release.

Friday’s decision marked the end of this six-year legal battle.