Google Wants to Publish FISA Requests

Google is one of the big internet companies who willingly participated in NSA surveillance program. Concerned lately about First Amendment rights, they have appealed to the FISA Court. They are now requesting that they be allowed to publish the number of surveillance requests submitted to them.

Google Wants to Publish Surveillance Numbers

Google filed its request to the FISA Court last week. If granted, Google will be permitted to publish the number of requests made under the surveillance agreement with the NSA. This published data will show the number of national security requests made as separate from the criminal requests. The specific request is to allow publication of the number of disclosures made in compliance with FISA as part of the total number of national security requests received.

This filing with the FISA Court comes after the US Department of Justice and the FBI rejected Google’s request. The two entities claimed such publication of the numbers to be against the law. Concerns regarding the apparent clash between privacy rights and national security matters remain. The public and prominent human rights organizations continue to pursue the issue. Companies like Google are caught in the middle and seek alternative solutions to satisfy all parties.

Google Wants to Ease Users’ Fears

The filed request clarifies that Google wishes to show users what they are sharing with the NSA. It claims that the information publicized by The Guardian and The Washington Post is false. And Google now wants to calm the public by being more transparent with users. The request then aims to show the public what is being requested for national security purposes. It is not clear, however, what information will really be seen in the proposed publications, or if it will disclose what they are really sharing with the NSA.

The question now is if Google is really trying to keep distance from US spying programs. And if this because they are truly concerned about user rights and welfare.Some speculate that it is more because of the passionate public response to the disclosed spying activities. Google has felt the sudden decrease in user trust through the significant dip in the use of Google services. Analysts suspect that Google simply does not want to lose its patrons. This move to publish surveillance requests is then a type of damage control to win back former Google fans.


Other Companies Have Already Struck a Bargain

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and some other companies involved in the NSA snooping program have already given out similar information. They have all made deals with the government about releasing the numbers of surveillance requests they receive. These companies also reacted to the information published by the two news companies. Speculation arose that the companies who participated in the NSA’s PRISM program allowed direct access to their data servers. They wish to counter these and any reports that they allowed this access, and to assert that they are not merely following the whims of the NSA.

It seems that there is precedent for Google’s request to be granted. Meantime there is little real information on what data the NSA is collecting under PRISM. Meantime, users continue to limit their use of services connected with the companies participating in the NSA surveillance program. Privacy and security companies also continue to see an increase in user downloads. This points to the use of tools, primarily virtual private networks (VPNs), as the immediate user solution to unwanted NSA snooping. Please read more here on VPN privacy and security features.

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