Dept of Justice asks court to dismiss lawsuit filed by Twitter; Twitter trying to make public Gov’t request data

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
January 30 2015

DOJ asks court to dismiss Twitter lawsuit

“Twitter wants to publish the number of orders it receives for user data.”

The Justice Department is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Twitter that claims the social media company’s First Amendment rights were violated.

twitter fights for your privacy

Twitter filed the lawsuit after it was blocked from publishing transparency reports with exact details on the number of government orders it receives to turn over customer information.

The DOJ, in a court filing last week, denied that its nondisclosure policies violate the First Amendment, maintaining it must balance transparency with national security concerns.

“The additional material that Twitter seeks to publish is information that the Government has judged is properly protected classified national security information, the disclosure of which would risk serious harm to national security,” the Justice Department wrote in its brief.

The department also asked the court to dismiss a number of other aspects of Twitter’s complaint, before taking up the First Amendment issue.

Read the full article here

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[Ventura County, California criminal defense lawyer and State Bar Certified Criminal Law Specialist Jay Leiderman provides defense of all crimes in state and federal courts. He is well-known for handling all drug cases, especially those involving search and seizure and medical marijuana cases, as well as cases involving serious violence, murder and manslaughter, cases involving life sentences, and all computer cases, including those involving the CFAA and oppression leveled against activists and hacktivists. He fights all types of cases involving the digital revolution, civil rights, political dissent, emerging tech issues in the courts, piracy, Search and seizure issues, freedom on the internet, fighting against unjust systems, governmental and prosecutorial overreach, medical marijuana, and overall injustice. Jay fights for the underdog. Jay is a lifetime member of the NORML Legal Committee. He wrote the first-ever defense of medical marijuana cases book in California. Jay is pro-privacy for the individual and believes in transparency for the state and large corporations. He is also a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), The National Lawyer’s Guild (NLG), The California Public Defender’s Association (CPDA) and is also a lifetime member of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ). He is admitted to practice in state and federal courts.]

19 thoughts on “Dept of Justice asks court to dismiss lawsuit filed by Twitter; Twitter trying to make public Gov’t request data

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  5. Contact
    Note: As of August 4, 2016, the mailing address for Matthew Keys has changed due to an ongoing legal issue. To read more about the legal issue, or to make a contribution to Matthew’s legal defense fund, click here.

    To send Matthew Keys letters after August 4, 2016 (handwritten or typed letters only):

    Matthew Keys #70041-097
    USP Atwater
    U.S. Penitentiary
    P.O. Box 019001
    Atwater, CA 95301

    Matthew can also receive hardcover books, magazines and newspaper subscriptions at the above address, but only if they are shipped directly from the publisher or a bookstore such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble (click here for Matthew’s public Amazon wish list). Matthew may receive softcover books at the above address from any source.

    Matthew also depends on direct financial contributions in order to maintain family and community ties and to continue his writing and reporting. Writing materials, envelopes, postage stamps, call credits and e-mail credits all come at significant costs. To make a financial contribution to continue Matthew’s work, send a money order (no cash or personal checks) in any amount in the name of Matthew Keys #74001-097 to the following address:

    Federal Bureau of Prisons
    Matthew Keys
    Register #74001-097
    Post Office Box 474701
    Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

    For more information on sending mail, packages, money (Western Union, MoneyGram) or other methods of getting in touch with Matthew after August 4, 2016, click here.

    Matthew Keys also depends on the continued advocacy of his supporters in resolving and rectifying his ongoing legal issue. Those who wish to voice their support for Matthew may do so in one of the following ways:

    Contact his attorneys Tor Ekeland at or Jay Leiderman at

    Contact his elected representatives (accurate as of August 3, 2016 — for an updated list, click here):

    Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) at 707-438-1822
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at 415 393-0707
    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at 916-448-2787

    Contact your federal elected official — for a complete list, click here.

    Contact the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 or by e-mail here.

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  7. Twitter, Inc. was recently named a witness in filings made by the Criminal Court of the City of New York, and the man behind the tweets supposes the trend will only continue.

    “When I saw an email from Twitter Legal in my inbox, I figured it was spam,” Malcolm Harris tells Reuters. He found out last month that the Criminal Court of the City of New York had sent a subpoena to Twitter headquarters with a demand for them to deliver “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets” that were related to an account Harris had registered with the microblogging site.

  8. “Twitter had attached the subpoena, and there was my handle, called by the County of New York to testify against me, the person it represents,” Harris writes.

    The request called for information limited to a brief window in late 2011 and it didn’t’ take Harris long to figure out what the city was getting at.

  9. “My tweets were being called to testify against their creator because on Oct. 1 of last year I was one of more than 700 people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge as part of an Occupy Wall Street action,” acknowledges Harris.

  10. The event in question would become a turning point for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began only weeks earlier down the road in Lower Manhattan. Although authorities in New York and across the US have since used every trick in the book to break the movement — from banning demonstrations in NYC’s Zuccotti Square where it started to pulverizing protesters in downtown Washington, DC with the aid of National Parks Service patrol equipped with batons and riot shields — it continues to swell.

  11. One reason for the still-resonating movement, most occupiers will tell you, is the Internet. It aided in the Arab Spring uprisings and was shut down by Middle Eastern government then as an attempt to crush protesters’ power to spread instructions, information and warnings to others. The US stepped up and condemned the censorship at the time. As Twitter and other forms of online communication prove to be crucial domestically, Harris and his peers are concerned that authorities in America are on the road to ravaging what’s left of the free-flow of information that it not only synonymous with democracy, but tied to the same movements that the US endorsed only last year.

  12. “Reports from Cairo to London to New York show that social media have served an important, sometimes vital, role in helping demonstrators keep safe and organize effectively,” says Harris. “That’s why the State Department intervened in Iran in 2009, and that’s why the District Attorney’s office is requesting my records now.”

  13. Twitter never had to tell Harris that the long arm of the law was interested in the little log of tweets sent from his account. The District Attorney’s office had actually included a gag request which, because it was non-binding, the social networking site overlooked. They came clean with Harris who in turn acquired an attorney. Harris remains not all that perturbed over the incident and, given his statement to Reuters, eerily unconcerned over the events thus far. What does cause concern, it would seem, is how the United States is allowing law enforcement to question not just how its citizens engage in legitimate democratic and constitutionally-allowed demonstrations, but how authorities appear angry at how the World Wide Web is encouraging such activity.

  14. Harris says he plead not guilty to the charges the NYPD delivered on him from October 1. He was cuffed, detained and dished a charge of disorderly conduct. Even before Twitter involved themselves in the legal battle, Harris fought the charges, “not because I didn’t block traffic, but because I believe the march across the bridge was a constitutionally protected form of political speech.”

  15. Now, Harris says, the District Attorney’s office wants to see if his Twitter handle was involved in any 140-character messages that suggest he would indeed have engaged in something deemed disorderly.

  16. Twitter users, to the establishment, is spawning an army of revolutionaries that are making manifestos from, literally, the palm of their hands.

    Harris notes that hacktivists with Anonymous have taken his side and come to the aid of a select few of others who have become subject to similar inquisitions as of late. Additionally, he acknowledges, the National Lawyers Guild, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union have all lent assistance to varying affects.

    As a court case involving Harris’ account (coincidentally, @getsworse) develops, all the aid of the advocates already lending their assistance is going to be needed to keep the government from going any deeper into online doings of people like Malcolm, whose tweets, unfortunately for the Court of New York, aren’t anything necessarily writing home about: This week Harris shared with his followers that he fixed his laptop, noticed Spike Lee attended a New York Knicks game and that he got a few drinks with someone whose real name may or may not be Penny Red.

    Also posted to his Twitted feed, however, are OWS-related news articles.

  17. It’s already been revealed that various law enforcement agencies of varying levels have singled out specific websites, users and keywords in terms of trying to get to the bottom of illegal activity. While a massive investigation involving the subpoena of a digital account is being conducted to see why an American wants to engage in a legal, political protest, however, citizens are becoming more and more weary of what the government can see — and why they want to see it.

    Earlier this month, the website JotForm was seized by the United States Secret Service. There was no warning and no explanation. “We will probably never find out the reason for the suspension. It has been a very difficult two days for both our users and for us. So, I hope this is the end,” the website would soon after write. In the days after — even after SOPA and PIPA fell apart on the floor of Congress — website admins began cautioning others to move their pages off of American servers. Emails circulated online where administrators cautioned others to use DNS servers outside of America, to sign up with non-US URL registrars and, eventually, to relocate their operation entirely.

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