Google wants to make public PRISM information

June 18, 2013 at 5:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- Google asked a special court in Washington Tuesday to let it make public information it's being forced to give to the government.

Google is one of nine companies named in NSA documents as providing information to the top-secret PRISM program. The company is asking that U.S. officials give it more authority to describe the government's demands as it and other companies seek to reassure users that their privacy is being protected, The Washington Post reported.

Google's request went to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates behind closed doors to approve or disapprove government intrusions on telecommunications. The Post said the request from the California company cites the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

The Post said Google is asking permission to publish the number of requests the court makes of the company and the numbers of user accounts affected.

"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," the company said in a statement.

Since revelations of PRISM surveillance, all of the technology companies, including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo!, have struggled to respond, the Post said. Most say they do not permit wholesale data collection, but concede they comply with legal government information requests.

The newspaper said FISA court data requests usually are known only to small numbers of a company's employees, and discussing the requests openly can violate federal law.

The FISA court is made up of 11 federal judges appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts, but it rarely rejects government requests for information, the Post said. The court approved 1,789 government requests it received in 2012, though one was withdrawn.

NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander told a House panel more than 50 attacks have been foiled by the NSA's surveillance programs.

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