Google is taking the fight over their role in controversial US spy programs to court. They say a “gag order” given to them by the federal government violates their First Amendment rights.
Since the revelation of top secret NSA and US intelligence operations several weeks ago and the involvement of several major internet companies, some, like Google have been quick to try to come clean.
But a government mandated gag order is keeping certain information under wraps.
Perhaps concerned about user backlash, several of the nine large companies named have been making efforts to distance themselves from the spy programs, including PRISM.
Last week the federal government issued a directive permitting limited public disclosure from several of the companies, including Microsoft and Facebook.
Google, however, has remained heavily skeptical of the government’s desire for transparency. In fact, the allowance issued last week, they claim, is actually purposefully misleading and requires important omissions.
As it is now, Google already regularly releases a transparency report for public consumption. Their report outlines how many requests for user information are made and by what government agencies.
The new permission allows companies to publish this information, but with a catch, Google said. Instead of outlining which cases were involved with FISA requests, all requests are lumped into a single figure.
As a Google spokesperson was reported by CNN to say: “Lumping national security requests together with criminal requests would be a backward step for Google and our users” and a limiting of speech rights.
While most applaud Google for keeping the federal government to task, some have the right to wonder this is not just a smart attempt to curb two weeks of terrible press.
Google has filed their court order asking for expanded disclosure permissions; whether it will be granted still remains to be seen. However, Google has assured users that they intend to seek further litigation if their requests are denied.
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