Facebook, Twitter support Google's call for transparency in surveillance requests

Google had earlier asked the government for permission to publish national security requests in its Transparency Report

Facebook and Microsoft have joined Google in asking for greater transparency in surveillance requests, following widespread criticism of the U.S. government's surveillance programs and the role of the Internet companies.

Twitter's General Counsel Alex Macgillivray also wrote in a message Tuesday on the service that Twitter supports efforts for more transparency in NSLs (national security letters) used by the government to collect data.

The U.S. National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation have access to servers at Google, Facebook and other major Internet services, collecting content for surveillance, the Guardian reported last week. Internet companies denied that they had provided access to the government to their servers.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller, Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond asked that the company should be allowed to publish in its Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including disclosures under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in terms of both the numbers received and their scope.

Government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel speculation "that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users' data," which Drummond described as untrue. Google published a copy of the letter on its blog.

Facebook's General Counsel Ted Ullyot said in a post on its website that the social networking company would "welcome the opportunity to provide a transparency report that allows us to share with those who use Facebook around the world a complete picture of the government requests we receive, and how we respond." Ullyot said the company had not issued a transparency report in the past, as it would be incomplete and misleading because of the government restrictions on disclosure.

Microsoft has also asked for greater transparency, according to reports.

Pressure has meanwhile increased on the U.S. government to provide details of its surveillance programs, including one that required Verizon to provide data on its customers in the U.S.

On Tuesday, eight U.S. senators cutting across political parties introduced legislation that would require the attorney general to declassify opinions issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Civil rights groups have been demanding that these judicial opinions should be made available to the public, after U.S. President Barack Obama called Friday for a debate on the tradeoff between privacy and security.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesGooglesecurityregulationMicrosofttwitterinternetlegislationgovernmentFacebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?