A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit from Twitter pushing the Justice Department to allow the company to reveal surveillance requests it had received, ending a six-year legal battle between the tech behemoth and the government.
The social media platform had sued the agency in 2014 to try to unveil part of its “Draft Transparency Report,” arguing that the company’s free speech rights were being violated because it was barred from revealing surveillance requests.
U.S. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the District Court for Northern California granted the government’s effort to dismiss the lawsuit, writing in an 11-page order that Twitter’s request “would be likely to lead to grave or imminent harm to the national security.”
“The Government’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and Twitter’s motion for summary judgment is DENIED,” the judge said in her order.
Rogers clarified that the government’s use of confidential declarations convinced her that unearthing the exact number of national security letters dating back to 2014, as requested by Twitter, would put national security at risk.
Twitter has cast itself since its inception as a champion of free speech and has repeatedly touted what it says is its right to reveal the scope of U.S. government surveillance.
“Transparency is a key guiding principle in Twitter’s mission to serve the public conversation. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of why we exist, and we strive at all times to help those who use our service and the general public understand how governments, including in the United States, interact with our company,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill.
“We believe it is vital that the public see the demands we receive, and how we work to strike a balance between respecting local law, supporting people’s ability to Tweet, and protecting people from harm.”