Google challenges surveillance court on First Amendment grounds

SEATTLE Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:35pm EDT

The Google logo is seen on the top of its China headquarters building behind a road surveillance camera in Beijing January 26, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The Google logo is seen on the top of its China headquarters building behind a road surveillance camera in Beijing January 26, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Google Inc asked the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Tuesday to allow it to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests it receives separately from criminal requests, on First Amendment grounds.

In its filing, Google requested the court to allow it to publish the aggregate number of national security requests it receives, including disclosures under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), claiming it as part of its First Amendment right to free speech.

"In light of the intense public interest generated by the Guardian's and Post's erroneous articles, and others that have followed them, Google seeks to increase its transparency with users and the public regarding its receipt of national security requests, if any," the Google filing said.

Google's move comes after other tech companies, including Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Apple Inc released limited information about the number of surveillance requests they receive under an agreement they struck with the U.S. government last week.

Under that agreement, the companies were only allowed to disclose aggregate requests for data made by government agencies without showing the split between surveillance and criminal requests, and only for a six-month period.

The companies are scrambling to assert their independence after documents leaked to the Washington Post and the Guardian newspapers suggested they had given the U.S. government "direct access" to their computers as part of a National Security Agency program called Prism.

The disclosures about Prism, and related revelations about broad-based collection of telephone records, have triggered widespread concern and congressional hearings about the scope and extent of the information-gathering.

Google said it asked the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation on June 11 to publish the aggregate number of national security requests, but said it was told such an act would be unlawful.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Richard Chang and Leslie Gevirtz)

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Comments (1)
wonka wrote:
The USA Government could save a lot more lives by outlawing the liberties of having people driving automobiles, than they”ll ever accomplish by fighting terrorists. In 2011 there was an average of 89 automobile accident deaths , per day in the USA (that is over 32,000 auto deaths for the year). The death from guns is about 1/3 of that. The death rate from terrorism in the USA since 2010 has not been more than 9 (year). Since 1985 the total figure (including 911) is about 3500. In the year 2000, 52 people in the USA died from an overdose of aspirin. The government compiles these figures and are aware of them. Clearly the argument that they make that they are protecting the public in fighting terrorism, doesn’t reveal the true nature of the USA Government’s true hidden agenda- which employs striking fear in the public as a tactic to obliterate out of the USA recognizable existence, the USA Bill of Rights. The ability to control persons with fear, and to control their property and speech is certainly, and to control the actions of large corporations- in Orwellian style, is a big part of what is in it for the USA Government.

Furthermore, spying on people through use of such Orwellian programs like Prism, to thwart and prevent maybe 10 deaths a year., is on the surface disproportionately not worth it in lives, restriction of theoretic freedoms, or for the business and the relationship of consumers with internet service providers. The government’s conduct in such matters actions, and overall, is very bad for business.

Jun 18, 2013 7:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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