FBI used national security letters forcing Twitter to give up user data

Security / Tech
national security

The fine line between law enforcement, security of the country, privacy and security is being blurred year over year.

Twitter has disclosed that the company was served what are called “national security letters” in which the FBI requested user data from Twitter. These national security letters had no warrants attached to them but did hold a gag order over Twitter. The gag order has been removed and the company is now free to discuss the matter in public. The letters were delivered to Twitter as recently as 2016 and they request what is known as “electronic communication transaction records” which includes email, header data and browsing history. Twitter did say they did not hand over everything the FBI requested in those letters.

“While the actual NSLs request a large amount of data, Twitter provides a very limited set of data in response to NSLs consistent with federal law and interpretive guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice,” Elizabeth Banker, associate general counsel at Twitter, wrote.

It is unknown who the users being targeted were as their names were redacted in the NSL.

Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the orders disclosed Friday were among a small handful of those publicly released that show the FBI continues to ask for internet records despite the 2008 guidance.

“This is an ongoing practice and it is significantly beyond the scope of what is intended,” said Crocker, whose organization is challenging the constitutionality of NSLs in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Twitter has also sued the government to more freely discuss NSLs.

The fine line between law enforcement, security of the country, privacy, and security is being blurred year over year. As technology, the internet, and social media grow, we’re going to see more instances such as this play out.

What do you think of the FBI forcing Twitter to give up data? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

  Source: Reuters
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