Google, Facebook and Yahoo have filed separate motions with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) today, requesting that they are allowed to publicly disclose the number and type of national security requests that they have received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Google is requesting that its petition is debated in public, so that a decision can be made transparently and with public oversight. The Director of National Intelligence has already agreed to release some aggregate information related to orders submitted under FISA, but Google feels this doesn’t go far enough. It said in its petition:
“It fails to inform them of the true extent of demands placed on Google by the government and in any event, such publication is not a replacement for Google’s right to speak truthfully and the process it receives.”
Yahoo, which filed a similar suit in the FISC today, echoed these sentiments on its Tumblr blog. Ron Bell, General Counsel for Yahoo argued that the US Government should be able to maintain its responsibility to protect public safety without barring technology firms from sharing information about the number of requests they receive. “Ultimately, withholding such information breeds mistrust and suspicion—both of the United States and of companies that must comply with government legal directives,” he added.
Facebook filed its own motion with FISC today and supported the arguments put forward by Google and Yahoo. It stressed that the actions and statements of the US government so far had not addressed public concerns or reassured Internet users.
“We believe there is more information that the public deserves to know, and that would help foster an informed debate about whether government security programs adequately balance privacy interests when attempting to keep the public safe,” Colin Stretch, Facebook General Counsel said.
The motions from both Google and Yahoo mirror a similar bid submitted by dozens of technology companies, including Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, to the President and Congress earlier this year.
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