updated 11:58 am EDT, Mon September 9, 2013
Search giant criticizes secretive policies
(Updated with details on Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft) Google has submitted an amended petition with the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, again calling for greater transparency over data requests. The company argues that it has suffered a damaged reputation due to FISA secrecy rules, which prohibit the company from disclosing even broad statistics regarding the number of FISA requests that it has responded to.
The petition references a Guardian report that Google claims is a mischaracterization of the company's compliance with FISA requests. The company flatly denies that the US government has direct access to data on its servers, and pays millions for such access, as alluded to in the news reports.
"In light of the intense public interest generated by The Guardian's and Post's erroneous articles, and others that have followed them, Google seeks to increase its transparency with users and the public regarding its receipt of national security requests, if any," the filing reads. "Google's reputation and business has been and continues to be harmed by the false or misleading reports in the media, and Google's users are concerned by the allegations."
The filing argues that the FISA restrictions are in violation of the First Amendment, and lifting of such rules is "critical to advancing public debate in a thoughtful and democratic manner."
Google is teaming with a number of other companies and trade associations to meet with the President's Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies today. They plan to convey the message that the secret policies "undermine the basic freedoms that are at the heart of a democratic society."
Update: Yahoo and Facebook have also joined the push for more transparency. Microsoft has been pursuing its own litigation since June 19, in parallel with Google, and expects to file its own amended motion later today.