Google, Facebook, and Other Tech Firms Will Be Allowed to Release Info About NSA Requests

January 27, 2014 4:48 pm

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NEW YORK – The government has partially lifted a gag on Google and other technology companies, allowing them to publish more specific statistics about the information they give to the government in response to national security demands, according to the Justice Department. The announcement comes several months after Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and LinkedIn filed motions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asking for permission to release data about orders from the court. The companies agreed today to withdraw their motions.

“This is a victory for transparency and a critical step toward reining in excessive government surveillance,” said Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “Companies must be allowed to report basic information about what they’re giving the government so that Americans can decide for themselves whether the NSA’s spying has gone too far. It is commendable that the companies pressed the government for more openness, but even more is needed. Congress should require the government to publish basic information about the full extent of its surveillance, including the significant amount of spying that happens without the tech companies’ involvement.”

In July, the ACLU, the First Amendment Coalition, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and TechFreedom filed an amicus brief in the FISA court supporting the motions filed by Google and Microsoft.

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