June 11, 2015 / 7:32 PM / 4 years ago

Judge casts doubt on Twitter lawsuit over surveillance

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice over surveillance may not need to proceed following the recent passage of the USA Freedom Act, a U.S. judge said in an order on Thursday.

The Twitter logo is shown at its corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California is hearing Twitter’s lawsuit seeking permission to publicly disclose more information about requests from U.S. authorities for information about its users.

Gonzalez Rogers asked both sides for more arguments about whether the case should proceed.

Representatives for Twitter and the U.S. Department of Justice could not immediately be reached for comment.

Twitter sued DOJ last year, intensifying its battle with federal agencies as the Internet industry’s self-described champion of free speech sought the right to reveal the extent of U.S. government surveillance.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Northern California, Twitter said the DOJ would not even allow the company to state that it has not received any national security requests for user information.

The messaging service said such restrictions violate the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

President Barack Obama signed the USA Freedom Act earlier this month, which reformed a government surveillance program that swept up millions of Americans’ telephone records. In court filings, the Justice Department argued that it also enacts a new legal process to disclose information about surveillance requests.

Twitter disputed that the recent law should impact current proceedings in the case. However, the judge said it goes to the “heart” of Twitter’s lawsuit.

“Indeed, the court is concerned that the new legislation

moots the claims for relief in Twitter’s complaint,” Gonzalez Rogers wrote on Thursday.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Twitter Inc. vs. Eric H. Holder, 14-4480.

Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Richard Chang

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