Google Seeks More Transparency
This past week, Google Inc. sent a letter to the Attorney General , Eric Holder, and the FBI Director, Robert Mueller detailing their arguments regarding why the public are entitled to know how many data requests the company receives from the NSA. Google have pointed out that they have spent years working to earn the trust of their users and that they should be allowed to offer those same users proof that the company has not been handing over personal data to the US Government. Google have already revealed to users how they provide information requested by the NSA. ‘When required to comply with these requests, we deliver that information to the US government – generally through secure FTP transfers and in person,’ said Google spokesman Chris Gaither.
‘The US government does not have the ability to pull that data directly from our servers or network. We refuse to participate in any program — for national security or other reasons — that requires us to provide governments with access to our systems or to install their equipment on our networks.’
Google’s Chief Legal Officer Hits Back
In a recent interview with Fox News, Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond discussed his intentions to push back against the NSA’s alleged blanket policy of snooping on American citizens. ‘we were as shocked about those revelations as anyone,’ said Drummond. Not only did Drummond and Page write directly to the FBI and the Attorney General, but they have also encouraged other internet giants to follow suit. Google wants the government to allow them to release a greater amount of information regarding national security orders. The letter comes just a few days after it was publicly acknowledged that a number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests had been issued to various internet companies in relation to their users’ online activity. Drummond told Fox News that,
‘a serious misperception has been created in the wake of the disclosures around the Verizon national security order, around phone records as well as the disclosures about the so-called PRISM program.’
Google may be leading the charge, but it seems that other internet giants including Facebook and Microsoft are following in their footsteps. Ted Ullyot, general counsel released a statement which said, ‘In the past, we have questioned the value of releasing a transparency report that, because of exactly these types of government restrictions on disclosure, is necessarily incomplete and therefore potentially misleading to our users. We 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. We urge the United States government to help make that possible.’