Twitter’s Fight for Transparency Targets the U.S. Government

October 8, 2014
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American interest in online privacy and surveillance programs has jumped since Edward Snowden’s revelations about digital government surveillance in the United States. Deteriorating public relations have plagued intelligence agencies that have been identified as participating in the mass surveillance phenomenon, and many tech companies have already responded to their customers’ concerns with more encryption or more privacy features.

On 7 October 2014 in its official blog, Twitter announced that it had filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government. The social media giant maintains that its users have expressed concern over the extent to which their tweets and actions are monitored by government surveillance, and Twitter feels entitled under the First Amendment to share more specific information of governmental data requests with its user base.

“We have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to publish our full Transparency Report, and asking the court to declare these restrictions on our ability to speak about government surveillance as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.”

Twitter’s lawsuit evidences the public’s negative reception of the year’s revelations regarding governmental surveillance actions. CTOVision shared a survey in March that found more Americans consider Snowden a whistleblower than a traitor – and if Twitter’s actions are any indication, public sentiment has remained anti-surveillance.

As cyber continues to penetrate our world, we can expect to see more discussions regarding what is appropriate for government organizations, corporations, and individuals. The success or failure of Twitter’s lawsuit may provide some insight to the future of social media’s relationship with the federal government.