Google writes open letter to US government

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In an effort to become more transparent in its role in the government information-sharing programme, Google wrote a letter to the FBI and the US Attorney General asking that it be allowed to disclose the number of information requests it receives under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Under the law, the search giant is prohibited from revealing anything about those requests for user information.

“Google has nothing to hide,” wrote Google Chief Legal Officer Dave Drummond. “Transparency here will… serve the public interest without harming national security.”

The search giant and its YouTube subsidiary, along with AOL, Apple, Yahoo, PalTalk, Microsoft, Skype and Facebook were named as participants in the National Security Agency (NSA) information-sharing programme known as “Prism.”

While it is not clear how the program works, whistleblower Edward Snowden told the UK’s Guardian and the Washington Post that the NSA had direct access to the companies’ servers.

However, all tech firms mentioned in the report refuted the claim.

According to Drummond, transparency on the number of FISA requests could alleviate the public’s fear that the search giant gave the authorities full access to user information.

“Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue,” he explained. However, the firm is bound by law to keep quite on the number FISA requests it gets.


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