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Google wants to publish National Security request data

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 11 Jun 2013 14:20

Google wants to publish National Security request data Google has written an open letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Muller seeking to release more information about National Security requests that it receives.
The letter (full text quoted below) hints that media reports about Google's compliance with National Security requests - specifically Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests - for user data, have been overblown.

However, Google's hands are tied by non-disclosure obligations, meaning it cannot specify in its own transparency reports how many FISA requests it gets, and how many accounts they cover. The letter seeks to end such non-disclosure obligations so that Google can provide real numbers to the public to counteract press assertions.

Dear Attorney General Holder and Director Mueller

Google has worked tremendously hard over the past fifteen years to earn our users' trust. For example, we offer encryption across our services; we have hired some of the best security engineers in the world; and we have consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for our users' data.

We have always made clear that we comply with valid legal requests. And last week, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that service providers have received Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests.

Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users' data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.

We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures--in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google's numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.

Google appreciates that you authorized the recent disclosure of general numbers for national security letters. There have been no adverse consequences arising from their publication, and in fact more companies are receiving your approval to do so as a result of Google's initiative. Transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security.

We will be making this letter public and await your response.

David Drummond
Chief Legal Officer

Tags: Google
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