Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/18/2013
05:58 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Challenges Surveillance Gag Order

Google argues it has a First Amendment Right to report the number of demands for information it receives under national security laws.

Google I/O: 10 Key Developments
Google I/O: 10 Key Developments
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Seeking to undo the damage to its business and reputation as a result of "false or misleading reports in the media," Google has asked the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to affirm its right to publish limited statistical data about orders it receives from the court.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court oversees surveillance requests from the nation's intelligence agencies. The requests, made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), typically come with a gag order. In April, as revealed two weeks ago by The Guardian, the court approved a request by the National Security Agency for ongoing daily access to the phone records of Verizon Business Services.

In reports based on information provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this month about the extent of U.S. government surveillance operations, The Guardian and The Washington Post said that Google and other technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo, provided the NSA with direct access to company servers through as system called Prism, to sift through customer data in pursuit of national security.

[ Google cooperates with the government in other ways. Read Google Defends Efforts Against Rogue Pharmacies. ]

Google CEO Larry Page and chief legal officer David Drummond promptly rebutted the claim that their company provides U.S. authorities with direct access to customer data. And a week ago, Drummond published an open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller seeking permission to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA orders in its Transparency Report.

Despite this, Google says that the Department of Justice and the FBI maintain that publishing the number of FISA requests the company receives is unlawful. Thus it has asked the FISC for a summary judgment declaring that it has the right to publish two numbers.

The company's legal motion states, "Google seeks a declaratory judgment that Google has the right under the First Amendment to publish, and that no applicable law or regulation prohibits Google from publishing, two aggregate unclassified numbers: (1) the total number of FISA requests it receives, if any; and (2) the total number of users or accounts encompassed within such requests."

In an emailed statement, a Google spokeswoman said that Google has long pushed for transparency so that users can understand the extent of government demands for data, noting that the company was the first to release data on the number of National Security Letters it receives.

"However, 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 spokeswoman said. "Lumping national security requests together with criminal requests would be a backward step for Google and our users."

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo have all taken such a step, publishing statistics on government demands for user data that combine national security requests with requests related to criminal investigations.

As if to underscore the difficulties that Google faces in dealing with supposedly inaccurate claims about its cooperation with U.S. authorities while under a gag order, Google's legal filing notes, "Nothing in this Motion is intended to confirm or deny that Google has received any order or orders issued by this Court."

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
smartmind
50%
50%
smartmind,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/19/2013 | 1:43:31 PM
re: Google Challenges Surveillance Gag Order
Bet if it was the Chinese government asking Google.CN for access to confidential data - it would up sticks and stop operating in China.... oops that is exactly what it did, isn't it? Perhaps it should also leave the USA and operate from elsewhere. I am sure that Ecuador would provide Google with a safe haven?
geek2geek
50%
50%
geek2geek,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/19/2013 | 4:14:35 PM
re: Google Challenges Surveillance Gag Order
Google gets busted for sleeping with NSA and then pleads "battered spouse" syndrome. lol what a bunch of tools
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Another COVID-19 Side Effect: Rising Nation-State Cyber Activity
Stephen Ward, VP, ThreatConnect,  7/1/2020
Lessons from COVID-19 Cyberattacks: Where Do We Go Next?
Derek Manky, Chief of Security Insights and Global Threat Alliances, FortiGuard Labs,  7/2/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15600
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in CMSUno before 1.6.1. uno.php allows CSRF to change the admin password.
CVE-2020-15599
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Victor CMS through 2019-02-28 allows XSS via the register.php user_firstname or user_lastname field.
CVE-2020-8916
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
A memory leak in Openthread's wpantund versions up to commit 0e5d1601febb869f583e944785e5685c6c747be7, when used in an environment where wpanctl is directly interfacing with the control driver (eg: debug environments) can allow an attacker to crash the service (DoS). We recommend updating, or to res...
CVE-2020-12821
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Gossipsub 1.0 does not properly resist invalid message spam, such as an eclipse attack or a sybil attack.
CVE-2020-15008
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
A SQLi exists in the probe code of all Connectwise Automate versions before 2020.7 or 2019.12. A SQL Injection in the probe implementation to save data to a custom table exists due to inadequate server side validation. As the code creates dynamic SQL for the insert statement and utilizes the user su...