University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Twitter v. Holder NS-CA-0013
Docket / Court 14-cv-4480 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704)
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Internet Metadata
Case Summary
On October 7, 2014, Twitter -- an online social networking service -- filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), under the Administrative Procedure Act. Twitter, ... read more >
On October 7, 2014, Twitter -- an online social networking service -- filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), under the Administrative Procedure Act. Twitter, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, alleging that nondisclosure provisions set forth in a letter from the DOJ ("the DOJ Letter") and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) secrecy provisions were unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Twitter also contended that the review mechanisms for seeking to modify the nondisclosure provisions violate the separation of power principles.

Following is the background:

The FBI issues National Security Letters ("NSLs") to communication providers, compelling them to disclose information deemed relevant for protecting against terrorism. The FBI also issues FISA orders based on its subsections that permit surveillance or disclosure of stored records. Recipients of a NSL or a FISA order are restricted from disclosing information of that order.

In 2013, in response to such restrictions, five communication providers (e.g., Google, Facebook, etc.) filed a lawsuit to relax restrictions for publishing information such as the total number of requests and user accounts encompassed by such requests. In January 2014, the DOJ and the five providers settled. Two preapproved disclosure formats were set forth in the DOJ Letter, which was dated January 27, 2014.

Plaintiff in this case, Twitter, has a practice of releasing transparency reports that list the number requests for account information and content removal and how the defendant responded to such requests. To date, the reports do not contain information regarding NSL and FISA orders. On January 29, 2014, the plaintiff met with the defendants and sought confirmation that the DOJ Letter (of January 27, 2014) did not apply to the plaintiff. Subsequently, the plaintiff submitted a draft report to the FBI seeking prepublication review; the draft included numeric information of NSL and FISA orders received. The FBI denied prepublication on a basis that the contained information exceeded the scope set forth in the DOJ Letter. This lawsuit ensued.

As of October 26, 2014, a summons has been issued to the defendants.

David Cho - 10/26/2014


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Records Disclosure
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Bivens
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Twitter, a global information sharing and distribution network
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Links Guest Post: New Resource — Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse FISA Archives
Just Security
Posted: Jun. 26, 2014
By: Margo Schlanger
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:14-cv-4480 (N.D. Cal.) 10/09/2014
NS-CA-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory Judgment 10/07/2014
NS-CA-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Reporter's Transcript of Proceedings 01/26/2015
NS-CA-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief of Amicus Curiae Freedom of the Press Foundation in Support of Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss 02/17/2015
NS-CA-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Corley, Jacqueline Scott (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
NS-CA-0013-9000
Rogers, Yvonne Gonzalez (N.D. Cal.)
NS-CA-0013-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berlin, Hayley L. (District of Columbia)
NS-CA-0013-0001 | NS-CA-0013-9000
Miller, Eric David (Washington)
NS-CA-0013-0001 | NS-CA-0013-9000
Snell, James (California)
NS-CA-0013-0001 | NS-CA-0013-0002 | NS-CA-0013-9000
Sussmann, Michael A. (District of Columbia)
NS-CA-0013-0001 | NS-CA-0013-0002 | NS-CA-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Berman, Julia Alexandra (District of Columbia)
NS-CA-0013-0002
Bressler, Steven Y. (District of Columbia)
NS-CA-0013-0002
Other Lawyers Gratz, Joseph C (California)
NS-CA-0013-0003

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