A U.S. judge ruled on Thursday that Twitter Inc could move forward with a lawsuit that aims to free technology companies to speak more openly about surveillance requests they receive from the U.S. government.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, said in a written order that the U.S. government had failed to show the kind of "clear and present danger" that could possibly justify restraints on the right of Twitter to talk about surveillance requests.
"The government's restrictions on Twitter's speech are content-based prior restraints subject to the highest level of scrutiny under the First Amendment," Rogers wrote.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees certain rights including freedom of speech.
Twitter filed the lawsuit in 2014 after revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of U.S. spying.
The detail that tech companies can provide about U.S. national security requests is limited, so that companies can release the number of requests only within a range, such as 0-499 in a six month period.
Rogers scheduled a hearing in Twitter's case for next month.
(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Dan Grebler and David Gregorio)