Google Seeks Permission to Publish Number of NSA Requests

Google sent a letter today to AG Eric Holder and the FBI seeking permission to disclose the number of national security and FISA requests it has received, the types of data covered by the requests, and the number of user accounts affected by the requests.

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.

The letter references the permission it received in March to publish this information about National Security Letters.

Most reaction from media and privacy groups seems to be positive. But Christopher Soghoian tweets:

If Google's FISA numbers are shockingly high, asking for permission to publish if they know it won't be given would be a very savvy move.

< Tuesday PRISM News | ACLU Files Suit Over NSA Dragnet Program >
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    Obama Has Been Concerned with Legacy (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by msaroff on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 03:47:22 PM EST
    since day 1.

    I think that he is going to see his legacy turn to ashes, much like Alan "Bubbles" Greenspan.

    BTW, the award for best use of Darkside of the Moon cover in a political cartoon goes to this cartoon in the Guardian.

    Transparency (none / 0) (#2)
    by squeaky on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:37:18 AM EST
    This request does make Google look good..  that is if they are acting in good faith on the belief there is a fair chance that the government will grant their request..  Otherwise... it is an empty gesture.

    Why ask? (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 09:52:42 AM EST
    isn't Google's obligation to their customers aka users?  Just tell us, the cat is already out the bag, the secret is out.  We're all assuming the worst anyway.

    Well (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 10:50:11 AM EST
    The NSL gag order is still in place...  U.S. District Judge Susan Illston banned them as well as the gag order on March 15th, but stayed her order giving the government 90 day to get their appeal in order..   so Google cannot legally release the info..  and Snowden can hide but Google cannot.

    Regarding FISA backed requests, I assume it is also illegal for Google to release those requests.. Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc, joined Google with similarly worded requests to release information about their involvement with releasing info to the government.


    I see... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 11:01:47 AM EST
    I just assumed Google is in the "too big to prosecute" class.

    Too Much To Lose (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 11:29:37 AM EST
    They are not willing to break the law by releasing information without permission... But apparently, they are not rolling over for Uncle Sam as reflexively as Verizon, ATT et al. do.

    They fought a broad subpoena from DOJ for URLs and search returns in 2006. And it is often speculated they were the company that challenged and appealed a 2007 Protect America Act order.