U.S. Opposes Tech Firms’ Plea To Release Surveillance Requests

The United States filed a court brief (pdf) opposing the release of details concerning the surveillance requests they hand big tech companies in the U.S.

As we reported back in August, Microsoft and Google were trying to reach an agreement with the government about what they could reveal about national security requests for customer data. When tech companies receive those requests, they also come with a gag order, making it illegal for them to tell their customer or anyone else about the request from the government.

Those talks crumbled and the companies moved forward with a lawsuit filed in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, demanding the ability to publish information clearly showing the number of demands for user content like the text of an email.

“Unless this type of information is made public, any discussion of government practices and service provider obligations will remain incomplete,” Brad Smith, a Microsoft vice president and general counsel, said in a blog post.

In a Sept. 30 filing with the court responding to the lawsuit, the Justice Department argued that releasing too much information about its requests would risk revealing its “sources and methods of intelligence collection, including the Government’s ability (or inability) to conduct surveillance on particular electronic communication service providers or platforms.”

“Releasing information that could induce adversaries to shift communication platforms in order to avoid surveillance would cause serious harm to the national security interests of the United States,” the government said.

The tech companies have argued that by issuing gag orders, the government is denying them of their First Amendment rights. But the government dismissed that, saying the information they want to disclose is classified, therefore not covered by the First.

All Things D reports on the tech firms’ response:

“Google said in a statement today, ‘We’re disappointed that the Department of Justice opposed our petition for greater transparency around FISA requests for user information. We also believe more openness in the process is necessary since no one can fully see what the government has presented to the court.’

“And Microsoft: ‘We will continue to press for additional transparency, which is critical to understanding the facts and having an informed debate about the right balance between personal privacy and national security.'”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Read original article – Published October 02, 2013 3:15 PM
U.S. Opposes Tech Firms’ Plea To Release Surveillance Requests

Recent headlines

  • Acting Alaska U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder speaks at a press conference in Anchorage on March 23, 2017.

    Veteran prosecutor nominated to be the US attorney in Alaska

    Trump nominated Bryan Schroder for the post, the acting head of the Alaska district since Karen Loeffler and 45 other U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama were asked to resign after Trump's election.
  • The Alaska Capitol Building in Juneau on June 6, 2017. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

    Alaska lawmakers to reconvene on capital budget next week

    A Senate spokesman says the third special session is likely to start Thursday, July 27, in Juneau, and it's expected to last one or two days. The House and Senate indicated an agreement had been reached.
  • A robotic camera provides for wildlife tracking across a meadow near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center for Wild Alaska Live. (Photo by Mikko Wilson/KTOO)

    Video: Behind the scenes of Wild Alaska Live

    The BBC and PBS are teaming up on a special series of live, prime-time nature programs showcasing Alaska’s wildlife to tens of millions of people around the world. Cutting edge technology and a lot of luck goes into the high stakes production.
  • Greens Creek Mine

    Juneau Assembly mining task force to add members

    The three-member Juneau Assembly mining task force is seeking to add two planning commissioners and two members of the public. The group is studying a proposal to streamline the city's mining review process.
X