Senators question Twitter's censorship

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) demanded answers from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on Wednesday about his company's new policy to allow governments to censor some tweets.

"We understand that Twitter has an obligation to comply with legal requests that do not violate human rights, and we appreciate that you are taking steps to minimize the impact of censorship," the lawmakers wrote. "However, your announcement leaves important questions unanswered."

ADVERTISEMENT
Twitter's policy allows it to block users in specific countries from seeing certain tweets to comply with local laws. For example, the company can block pro-Nazi tweets in France or Germany to comply with those countries' speech regulations. 

The lawmakers asked Twitter how it determines whether it must comply with a government's request to censor a tweet and whether it considers if the request violates international human-rights law.

The lawmakers also asked for more information about Twitter's privacy policy and whether it would turn over private user information to the police.

They urged Twitter to join the Global Network Initiative, a voluntary code for tech companies to protect human rights.