Google asks court for permission to publish government data requests
WASHINGTON — Google said Tuesday it asked a special US court handling national security investigations for permission to publish the number of government requests for data to the Internet giant.
The court filing in Washington came amid a firestorm of protests over revelations that the National Security Agency had accessed vast amounts of data in a surveillance program under the supervision of the special court, which operates in secret.
Google said it already publishes in its “transparency report” data on requests from law enforcement and so-called National Security Letters from the FBI.
“However, greater transparency is needed, so today we have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately,” a Google spokesperson said.
“Lumping national security requests together with criminal requests — as some companies have been permitted to do — would be a backward step for our users.”
FISA refers to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which authorized the secret court.
Google said it was seeking a court ruling to allow it to publish “limited, aggregate statistics” on orders for the company to hand over data.
“Google’s reputation and business has been harmed by the false and misleading reports in the media, and Google’s users are concerned by the allegations,” the petition said.
The company said it was asking the court to affirm its “right” under the First Amendment of the US Constitution to publish the information.