Privacy concerns are front and center in the online world these days, and a deal taken by Facebook and Microsoft on government transparency doesn’t pass the Google sniff test. Google claims the offer comes with strings attached they can’t live with , and they appear to be holding out for a better offer.
The current deal forces companies who wish to disclose FISA requests to lump in those coming from the NSA with that of U.S. local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. This restriction alone makes it pretty much impossible to know where our information is going, and is further complicated by another rule that forces them to only report request in bands of 1,000.
Google has taken a hard stance on the matter, and has released a pretty clear statement with what they hope to accomplish.
We have always believed that it's important to differentiate between different types of government requests. We already publish criminal requests separately from National Security Letters. Lumping the two categories together would be a step back for users. Our request to the government is clear: to be able to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately.
We have no idea if Google will get its way, but at the very least they should be applauded for sticking up for the rights of their users. Twitter’s legal director Benjamin Lee has also sided with the search giant , paving the way for a standoff that will play out over the coming weeks.
We agree with @Google : It's important to be able to publish numbers of national security requests—including FISA disclosures—separately.— Benjamin Lee (@BenL) June 15, 2013