updated 12:16 pm EDT, Fri September 13, 2013
Companies claim violation of First Amendment
The federal government has promised to issue a response to legal challenges from Google and Microsoft by September 30, following multiple delays and a renewed push by the companies. The ongoing dispute centers around Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) rules that prohibit the companies from disclosing how many national-security data requests they have been asked to fulfill.
In a separate filing (PDF) spotted by GigaOM, Microsoft again asked the court to allow disclosure of aggregate statistics received under FISA and related amendments. The document echoes Google's recent filing, claiming that the companies are being unfairly and incorrectly criticized by the press for their participation in surveillance programs exposed by the Snowden leaks.
The companies, which also include Yahoo and Facebook in separate cases, have agreed to keep secret the details surrounding specific data requests -- however they argue that rules preventing them from publishing overall numbers are in violation of their First Amendment rights. Yahoo was one of the first to challenge the government, years ago pushing to declassify a 2008 decision related to the Snowden-revealed PRISM program.
After the government issues its response to the legal challenges, Microsoft and Google will have one month to issue their own reply briefs to the Department of Justice.