Google Wants the Court’s Help to Protect Your Privacy


Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has filed a complaint asking the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow the tech company to reveal the number of national security requests it receives from the U.S. government on the grounds of First Amendment rights to free speech.

Stories published by The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers based on leaked documents from the National Security Agency, sent the American public into an uproar over what was widely seen as huge privacy violations. Other tech companies under NSA surveillance that were outed by journalists, including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), have reached agreements with the government to reveal a limited amount of information about the number of surveillance requests they receive.

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The agreements reached by Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook only allow those companies to show a total number of government requests for data over a six month period. Google wants to take that a step further, pushing the government to allow it to reveal the split between how many surveillance and how many criminal requests it gets from government agencies.

The news stories surrounding NSA surveillance have made it seem as though the agency had complete access to the computers and data of the companies it watches through a top-secret computer program called PRISM. The tech and wireless phone companies outed in the articles have been struggling to re-establish independence as they face consumer backlash. Google would like to disclose to its users the actual scope of the PRISM program, which it says has been falsely portrayed by the media as having full access to all Google’s servers.

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“In light of the intense public interest generated by the Guardian’s and Post’s erroneous articles, and others that have followed them, Google seeks to increase its transparency with users and the public regarding its receipt of national security requests, if any,” the Google filing said.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the NSA declined to comment on the Google complaint, and some have accused Google of only using the complaint to get some positive press.

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