Last week, we reported on a letter Google had sent to the U.S. government in which it asked for the release of national security request data. A week later, the company is now asking for the secretive Foreign Intelligence Court to lift a gag order, claiming that it has the constitutional right to clear its name after openly discussing government data requests.
A Google spokesperson says the company is asking the court to let it “publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately,” because “lumping national security requests together with criminal requests – as some companies have been permitted to do – would be a backward step for our users.” Google is essentially asking for more leeway to describe its relationship with the government following the NSA leak two weeks ago. It wants to publish the total numbers of requests the court makes and which users are affected. The company says that the First Amendment gives it the right to disclose the information it is forced to hand over to the government.
The full statement from Google follows:
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We have long pushed for transparency so users can better understand the extent to which governments request their data–and Google was the first company to release numbers for National Security Letters. However, greater transparency is needed, so today we have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately. Lumping national security requests together with criminal requests – as some companies have been permitted to do – would be a backward step for our users.
Source: Washington Post