Twitter Rejects NSA Agreement, Demands More Transparency

Twitter Rejects NSA Agreement, Demands More Transparency

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Twitter says it is considering its legal options as it looks to defend its First Amendment rights against NSA gag orders.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Facebook and LinkedIn all reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice last month on "new and additional ways in which the government will permit [them] to report data concerning requests for customer information." The agreement sets out what information regarding national security requests these companies can provide to their customers and the circumstances under which it may be provided; it's fairly dry stuff but includes, for instance, an option to report "the total number of all national security process received, including all NSLs [National Security Letters] and FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] orders, reported as a single number in the following bands: 0-249 and thereafter in bands of 250."

Twitter, however, served notice today that it believes the limitations of that agreement are too restrictive. Jeremy Kessel, Twitter's manager of global legal policy, wrote in a blog post that "it is essential for companies to be able to disclose numbers of national security requests of all kinds - including national security letters and different types of FISA court orders - separately from reporting on all other requests."

"For the disclosure of national security requests to be meaningful to our users, it must be within a range that provides sufficient precision to be meaningful. Allowing Twitter, or any other similarly situated company, to only disclose national security requests within an overly broad range seriously undermines the objective of transparency," Kessel wrote. "In addition, we also want the freedom to disclose that we do not receive certain types of requests, if, in fact, we have not received any."

Under current legislation, Twitter and other companies are prevented from providing those sorts of details, but Kessel said that not only impacts user privacy, it also infringes upon basic First Amendment Rights. The company isn't looking to throw the doors open to everyone, but he does believe there are "far less restrictive ways to permit discussion in this area." Twitter is "pressing" the Department of Justice on the matter, but is also looking into its legal options. He also announced that Twitter has launched "country reports," which collect relevant data into country-specific tables that he said will be more useful to users around the world. Twitter hopes to have its entire transparency site translated to the format by the end of the year.

"We are encouraged to see an increasing number of companies publish their own transparency reports, and have added links to many of those reports on our site. We very much would like to see transparency reports become commonplace for all companies that handle user data and receive government requests," he wrote. "Indeed, transparency is critical for building and maintaining user trust and trust from the larger public, and for fostering a healthy and vibrant global community committed to defending free expression."

Source: Twitter Blog

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Well i am actually impressed by this you stick to your guns twitter.

Well at least one IT company hasn't hit its breaking point on consumer rights, yet. Twitter better fight this and, with help, beat it into the ground once and for all. It will never go away, but with the information age the government is getting way too Orwellian.

Nation Security for the sake of protecting the CITIZENS(read: innocent children and families, not politicians and corporate types with bad secrets in need of hiding) is important. They might have found a tiny amount terrorist cells or plots via email/IMs and can't talk about it without letting the rest of the terrorist group know they've been spotted. But, I think any terrorist organization that doesn't plan after hitting back a few brewskies is going to just communicate their evil in person or via a courier(someone who just flies from one country to another a lot)that may not even be aware they are apart of a plot, while avoiding giving out details over any system that the US has jurisdiction over.

This NSA thing is just to keep tabs on anyone who might get vocal about the current administrations policies and give out sensitive info about those opponents to turn the public eye over to their problems and scandals instead and discredit them. We should petition them to make a law that let's everyone in the country be able to listen in on any conversation between politicians, lobbyists, and their bed buddy corporate executives, if they want to continue asking for data from . I know it would never even make it to being propose in Congress, but it should send them the message that everyone in the world is fed up with their emails being under constant threat of probing.

This is good at least put up a fight till they threaten to jail your family. Too cynical? Anyhow hope more compinies get smart and drag this sort of stuff into the public forums, no better defense against fascist policies that keep creeping out of western govenment of late.

Twitter has always been on the side of the user. They're about the only huge tech company I don't think is blatantly corrupt and evil.

I'm not really sure what there is to "share" though. I work on a Twitter application at my company and nearly all handle information is entirely public save for direct messages.

Funny that this news seems to coincide with a 25% drop in Twitter stock.

nice try at pr there.
As far as the laws are concerned, twitter has no rights here.
This is just a try at making some good pr.
Twitter uas no legal ground here. You people made sure of that.

If I was a terrorist I would set up a couple of throwaway email boxes, and spend about 2-3 days programming one of the freely available reliable encryption algorithms, like triple DES, AES or their likes. Seriously, even amateur programmers with basic knowledge of math can do that. Even if those messages are intercepted it would take around 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 years to decipher them without keys. OR, you can use one-time cipher pads (or codebooks) which nowadays can take the form of pretty much anything, from MP3s to JPG images, and information encrypted like that can NEVER be recovered without knowing the key. OR I could use steganography to hide hidden messages in photos of grumpy cat, and put them on 9gag. There would be no way to tell that the image was altered to contain hidden message, and, again, without key it would be pretty much unrecoverable.

So, tell me again how totalitarian government spying can prevent those things?

Hairless Mammoth:
Well at least one IT company hasn't hit its breaking point on consumer rights, yet. Twitter better fight this and, with help, beat it into the ground once and for all. It will never go away, but with the information age the government is getting way too Orwellian.

Nation Security for the sake of protecting the CITIZENS(read: innocent children and families, not politicians and corporate types with bad secrets in need of hiding) is important. They might have found a tiny amount terrorist cells or plots via email/IMs and can't talk about it without letting the rest of the terrorist group know they've been spotted. But, I think any terrorist organization that doesn't plan after hitting back a few brewskies is going to just communicate their evil in person or via a courier(someone who just flies from one country to another a lot)that may not even be aware they are apart of a plot, while avoiding giving out details over any system that the US has jurisdiction over.

This NSA thing is just to keep tabs on anyone who might get vocal about the current administrations policies and give out sensitive info about those opponents to turn the public eye over to their problems and scandals instead and discredit them. We should petition them to make a law that let's everyone in the country be able to listen in on any conversation between politicians, lobbyists, and their bed buddy corporate executives, if they want to continue asking for data from . I know it would never even make it to being propose in Congress, but it should send them the message that everyone in the world is fed up with their emails being under constant threat of probing.

I have mixed opinions on the subject. As much as people love to mention both Hitler and Orwell in reference to security concerns we're still a long way away from that. Truthfully the US has some of the worst internal security in the world which makes it ironic when we're criticizing Russia over their ability to protect The Olympics. The way I see things we should actually be taking some queues from some of our allied nations, the ones that ironically people swear they are going to move to in order to "flee the US government's police state". For example the UK has a much more draconian surveillance network in place that I hear people from the UK periodically complain about (basically people being recorded almost the second they step out of their home, with the government having free and easy access to all of that information) and last time I checked Canada's police still have blank warrants (which as a concept go beyond pretty much anything you've heard either Bush or Obama discuss at their worst, pretty much the ultimate police wet dream).

The simple truth is that when it comes to inconvenience people like to act like anything the government wants to regulate or control for security purposes couldn't possibly apply. Whether it's about how information would be distributed, or arguments about the evils of profiling where people will both argue that terrorists will both "look abnormal" or "wouldn't let themselves stick out abnormally like that" depending on the needs of the moment, as long as the argument is being made against government security.

At the end of the day the point of both terrorism, and to a lesser extent intelligence (and even some kinds of security work) is that you wind up having to use what is there. Unlike the movies not everyone is walking around with micronized radios attached to their eardrums that uplink to satellites and the like. Basically the more high tech you get, the more countermeasures can be applied (and the greater the chances of some counter-tech you don't know about messing things up). What's more countries poor enough to resort to terrorism generally do not have the technological resources to play the "spy game" even if they wanted to, or mount serious military forces, which is why they are terrorists. It becomes all about adapting what's on hand first and foremost. If you read much about real world intelligence, counter-intelligence, and security in terms of things that worked and were later outed, or plots that were foiled due to a leak or whatever, the bottom line is that 90% of it isn't that deep, and that's half the point of good field craft. If anything Hollywood movies are guilty of actually overthinking things and accrediting more to the people who do this
kind of stuff than is actually there. Your basic spy or terrorist is very much going to use whatever channels are available, and work with ciphers, codes contextual to the medium being used, and similar things, with the understanding that if they are spotted the whole thing goes down anyway. What's more in most cases these guys aren't going to be in "super deep cover" rather using their normal identity and keeping their agenda quiet, or just laying low for the short term while they move towards a specific objective.

The point I'm getting at is that I can't really fault a lot of what the NSA does for information gathering and the like. Especially when I consider the sheer number of enemies the US has (deserved or not). I think even Snowden's leaks pale before the Orwellian fears some people have, and really even with that it seems we're light years behind in terms of domestic security.

Of course at the same time I have to admit I'm pretty jaded by the simple fact that this kind of info isn't *that* hard to get we're largely talking about depriving the government of information to stop terrorism and stuff that criminals are going to freely steal anyway for their own gain. It's not like this stuff is super secure and it only a group like the NSA can get into it to begin with.

I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but that's still my thoughts.

Hawkeye21:
If I was a terrorist I would set up a couple of throwaway email boxes, and spend about 2-3 days programming one of the freely available reliable encryption algorithms, like triple DES, AES or their likes. Seriously, even amateur programmers with basic knowledge of math can do that. Even if those messages are intercepted it would take around 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 years to decipher them without keys. OR, you can use one-time cipher pads (or codebooks) which nowadays can take the form of pretty much anything, from MP3s to JPG images, and information encrypted like that can NEVER be recovered without knowing the key. OR I could use steganography to hide hidden messages in photos of grumpy cat, and put them on 9gag. There would be no way to tell that the image was altered to contain hidden message, and, again, without key it would be pretty much unrecoverable.

So, tell me again how totalitarian government spying can prevent those things?

It can't prevent a lot of things, at least not what we're talking about here. No form of security is ever going to be 100% perfect or prevent everything and anything, all you can do is set up the best security you can and deal with what you can.

For the most part this form of government snooping is to try and counter fieldcraft, unlike the movies your spies or terrorists aren't going to be running around with tons of gear. If one wants to talk to another, they are going to use public communication channels like anyone else and simply attempt a contextual cipher or code. Indeed when you get down to it most real world "spy stuff" is surprisingly simple, almost idiotic in it's obvious simplicity (like a lot of stage magic) once you know the tricks involved. There have been entire books written about this kind of stuff (after the fact).

As I said in my previous post, I think we're a long way from any kind of horrible, Orwellian, government, the US doesn't even come close to what a lot of it's key allies have for security or policework when you get down to it, which is kind of disturbing when you consider the number of enemies we have. I find it occasionally hilarious to hear people talk about fleeing "the oppressive US government" to Canada or the UK when Canada has blank warrants, and the UK apparently has so much camera coverage and government access to it that people are pretty much "bugged" as soon as they step out of their house or so I've heard from some complaints.

As I also said in my previous post, being kind of jaded to this largely comes from the fact that the information isn't exactly that hard to get anyway. It seems stupid to prevent the NSA from officially using it to hunt from criminals, spies, and terrorists, when those same criminals spies and terrorists aren't going to stop for a second when it comes to getting into that information if they have something to gain. I mean ideally this information would be protected from everyone, or take something really special to get into, but it doesn't, so really at this level it comes down to simply insisting our own guys try and protect us with one hand tied behind their back. Sure, I don't want the NSA to know I play a bi-sexual elf named Thina in a PBEM game (oh noes! It's out) it's a deep dark secret after all (eyes roll) but really we all have to make our sacrifices for the greater good.

Therumancer:
I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but that's still my thoughts.

your posts are very long but i shoudl read more of them. the more i read the more i end up agreeing with your opinion. i know we had our arguments in the past on what way the world should take, but you seem to have a very logical view of this and i really like that.

When people found out NSA was reading our emails i said "So what" and instantly got burried by respons of how im some evil being for not asking for freedom and the like. In my opinion we need transparency more than anything else. which includes both NSA seeing what we do and us seeing what NSA does. there obviously are some things that can stay hidden but government AND the people need far far more transperancy if we are to move forward from corruption and hatemongering.

Therumancer:
and the UK apparently has so much camera coverage and government access to it that people are pretty much "bugged" as soon as they step out of their house or so I've heard from some complaints.

its not THAT much but they are actively trying to put entire cities under camera surveillance to detect possible criminal activity. Loudest complainers i heard about it was along the lines "i was trying to deal drugs on this corner and the stupid police caught me becuase of the cameras, therefore cameras are evil".

I ma sorry but isn't twitter online equivalent of shouting stuff in the wind hoping that someone will listen and care about your shit?
What is the point of caring about your privacy if you literally yell all that you on anybody that would listen.

Therumancer:
{snip}

Your right, US citizens complain about the NSA a lot recently, while other developed nations have had even more internal spy infrastructure for years or even decades. The kinds you can't escape unless your live in a small farming town your whole life. Security for the sake of safety is the written goal of all these services, and spying, whether government funded or just individual patriots, has been around since the dawn of civilization. The NSA is just doing a horrible job at keeping where the stick their noses a secret, now. Like you said, their internal security is very lax. They could have paid informants or tried cracking the IT companies security, but tech has caught up with them enough that attempts at poking around leaves breadcrumbs and people just talk more about being asked fishy questions. Anyone with a brain knew that the major world governments were looking at everything they had the funding and manpower to check out since WW2 and the Cold War. The Patriot Act and Snowden just got more people interested in questioning what the NSA is up to. While the TSA is a useless front to make the average citizen feel safe even though several people have snuck IEDs past them or made them in the Airport(either for ill purposes or to show how much of a failure the TSA really is), the NSA probably is acting as a deterrent to terrorist since they can't use IT to communicate their plans, so they're returning their focus to Israel and European countries they had cells already in. Hopefully, the NSA won't let up where they need to be looking in case terrorists do get careless and use a cracked cypher online.

Of course at the same time I have to admit I'm pretty jaded by the simple fact that this kind of info isn't *that* hard to get we're largely talking about depriving the government of information to stop terrorism and stuff that criminals are going to freely steal anyway for their own gain. It's not like this stuff is super secure and it only a group like the NSA can get into it to begin with.

The ironic thing is everyone is putting their personal info on Facebook and the like; expecting a company known for leaking(unintentionally or not) their info and selling it for big bucks to the highest bidder. Burglars see what times you are out of the house to plan a neighborhood heist, and ID thieves are guessing what your bank passwords are by reading what pets you had and where you went to school. People are complaining about the gov when the corporations are asking them nicely for info they want and the consumer isn't saying no to personal inquiries and safeguarding the info they do give out. Someone online even joked the NSA should just hire the major corps to get a lot of the info they want. Even criminals are cracking credit card servers left and right in the past couple years, the kind of servers you'd think business would invest the most in keeping secure so their public image isn't tarnished by a couple of tech savvy opportunists in their underwear. The Information Age was aptly named. Everyone can get your info.

Undomesticated Equine:
I ma sorry but isn't twitter online equivalent of shouting stuff in the wind hoping that someone will listen and care about your shit?
What is the point of caring about your privacy if you literally yell all that you on anybody that would listen.

You can make your accounts/tweets private, and there's also personal information that can be involved in the creation of your account. Activity information, etc..

Of course, all this stuff is mostly pointless, because we now know the NSA can find it out without the tech companies involvement anyhow. That would only be an issue if they took you to court though, which they aren't fans of doing.

I weep when people think it aok against the laws of this nation and the bill of rights and due process and all of that to allow mass spying because meh.

piss off if you want to have that attitude seriously.

there is no reason what so ever that this is protecting anyone, you dig through the snowden files you can find instances of people illegally accessing private information on personal aquantiences, nm the amount of abuse that occour on a grander level of targeting political enemies and religious enemies, which this administration has done, and its even more imperative this administration not be allowe this type of sweeping power, you are out of you goddamn minds if you ready to roll over and allow this criminal administration to do what the hell ever it wants.

cerebus23:
I weep when people think it aok against the laws of this nation and the bill of rights and due process and all of that to allow mass spying because meh.

piss off if you want to have that attitude seriously.

there is no reason what so ever that this is protecting anyone, you dig through the snowden files you can find instances of people illegally accessing private information on personal aquantiences, nm the amount of abuse that occour on a grander level of targeting political enemies and religious enemies, which this administration has done, and its even more imperative this administration not be allowe this type of sweeping power, you are out of you goddamn minds if you ready to roll over and allow this criminal administration to do what the hell ever it wants.

Quoted for truth. Props on twitter for this, but what really needs to happen is social media / telecommunications / ISPs need to tell the US Federal Government to fuck off and read the rulebook they're not supposed to be allowed to mess with.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Per court decisions, Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures nonetheless apply to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because, "a person's private communications are akin to personal papers."

This is no fun. I got no one to root for. Exactly what is my gain if either of them win out here?

I read a fair amount of stories like this about Twitter defending the privacy rights of its users. It's refreshing, considering how often Terms of Service are used in a draconian manner against users, but abandoned at a whim by the service providers that draft them

Not gonna lie, I'm tempted to dislike their service less

If I can think of a reason to start using it, I will surely do so

 

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