Google asks to disclose secret court data requests

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WASHINGTON—Google asked the US government Tuesday for permission to publish information about its compliance with secret national security data requests, saying it has “nothing to hide.”

The Internet giant released the text of its letter to the FBI and US Justice Department, requesting permission to release numbers related to its handing over of data for surveillance programs disclosed in the past week.

The letter, signed by Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond, noted that the company’s “transparency report” on government requests does not include national security requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the US government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue,” Drummond wrote.

“However, government non-disclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.”

Drummond said Google would like to include “aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures” and said that the numbers “would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.”

Google is among major Internet companies identified as participants in the PRISM program, described as a vast surveillance operation aimed at finding foreigners who are threats to the government. Other firms in the program included Microsoft, Yahoo!, Facebook, Apple and AOL.

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