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Google criticizes FISA gag order in latest Transparency Report

updated 09:37 am EST, Thu November 14, 2013

Requests up by more than 100 percent since 2010

Google has released its latest Transparency Report, detailing government requests for user data during the first half of the year. Such requests have more than doubled since Google released its first report in July 2009, totaling 25,879 for the six-month period, though the company notes that "these numbers only include the requests we're allowed to publish."

Taking a closer look at the numbers shows that requests from the US government have more than tripled since July 2009, now accounting for more than a third of all inquiries. Two-thirds of the US requests were court subpoenas, while 22 percent were related to warrants. A small fraction were related to pen-register orders and emergency disclosure requests.

The company claims it wants to "go even further" with disclosures, mockingly including a fake FISA-request chart that is completely obscured by black redaction lines. "Specifically, the U.S. government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," notes Google legal director Richard Salgado.

"We believe it's your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies. However, the U.S. Department of Justice contends that U.S. law does not allow us to share information about some national security requests that we might receive," Salgado adds.

The company is currently involved in a legal dispute against the Department of Justice in an attempt to make public the broad figures related to FISA requests. It has also voiced support for proposed legislation, including the Surveillance Transparency Act and the Surveillance Order Reporting Act, that would allow basic statistics to be published by companies.

"Our promise to you is to continue to make this report robust, to defend your information from overly broad government requests, and to push for greater transparency around the world," Salgado concludes.

by MacNN Staff



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