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Tom Simonite

A View from Tom Simonite

Google Says Secret Intelligence Court Restricts Its Right to Free Speech

Google is demanding that a secret intelligence court allow it to share some details about surveillance requests for user data.

  • June 18, 2013

Last week, negative press in the wake of recent leaks about NSA surveillance prompted Facebook, Google, and Microsoft to politely ask the U.S. government to be allowed to share broad statistics on their legally required role in such activities.

Google is now said by the Washington Post to be preparing legal papers that would make its request more of a demand, claiming that gag orders placed on it disclosing data requests breach the First Amendment. A statement from Google published by the Post says:

“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.”

Google’s papers join others filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court since material leaked by Edward Snowden came to light. Last week the ACLU launched a suit alleging that the bulk collection of phone records approved by the court (see “NSA Surveillance Reflects Broader Interpretation of the Patriot Act”) was unconstitutional.

Update: The National Journal has posted a copy of Google’s filing (PDF).

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