Google Urges Government to Publicize FISA Requests
As Search Giant Fights For Additional Government Transparency
After last' week's PRISM NSA spying scandal
, Google, Facebook, Apple and all the other companies named in the leaked project slides
conducted a bit of a tap dance performance over whether or not they let the NSA have "direct access" to their servers, or whether they "had ever heard of" an operation named PRISM.
The words were chosen carefully to legally dodge other possibilities
, including having NSA hardware on site that first splits then captures user data, something AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein
(pdf) claims is common practice at major carriers. Because it's technically NSA hardware, the claim of not allowing "direct access" to servers would remain true.
Google has traditionally fought harder for transparency than other companies, so it's very possible the extent to which the NSA has been able to fully implement gear on network is smaller. Google is prohibited from disclosing the number of requests it gets for data under section 702 of the FISA act, and has been fighting for additional transparency and against National Security Letters
and gag orders. Today, Google posted a blog entry
saying they've written a letter to the offices of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In it, the search giant requests that they be able to publicize the number of national security requests received and how many accounts are impacted in their transparency reports:
Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure 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.
We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.
Granted Google knows full well that the government very likely won't grant this request, so they win from a PR perspective either way. Disclosing FISA requests for metadata also may not illustrate the full breadth of NSA's capabilities to monitor traffic in real time. If Google has nothing to hide, surely they'll also request the right to detail precisely what kind of hardware the NSA currently has placed on Google's network and exactly what it's doing? Meanwhile, how many companies don't have Google's standards on transparency and allowed the NSA to take things further?
Palo Alto, CA
Re: Lame... How is this difficult to understand? A single "request" from the nsa could demand google give them the records of 1 millions users. Google asking the government to release the number of "requests" they have gotten means nothing because of this.
| || |said by JasonOD :The ECHELON story was broken in the early 90's. You are thinking of Bush's warrantless wiretapping which was a big story about 5-6 years ago. That program is pretty much the same thing Obama is doing now. Yes, there is some hypocrisy in the media. For instance, some conservatives defended Bush when he did it but now are proclaiming the end of the 4th amendment under Obama. So, yeah your point is taken. I, personally, was not happy about it under Bush and am not happy about it now.
for what they hell they're doing with MY data, they can STFU. Any guys, this isn't new, remember echelon from about 5 years ago?!?
A lot of people cared back then. During the 80's, the European parliament heard about ECHELON and conducted an investigation into it (mainly because it was suspected NSA was conducting economic espionage against European companies and passing along trade secrets to U.S. companies). They found out that indeed it was real and that the UK, Aussies, Canada, and NZ had an alliance of spying. You can read their report online.
Except for maybe scoring polical points, it just baffles me why noone cared then but suddenly everyone cares now.
ECHELON was mainly concerned with international phone calls (back then international calls traveled via satellite so it was actually easy to intercept the calls with ground based satellite dishes). Since ECHELON was mainly aimed at international calls, not a lot of people really cared that much. However, now such programs have been supplanted by programs designed to spy on fiber-optic lines (as was done at AT&T under Bush). Fiber-optic lines do not emit much radiation, thus you have to tap the line directly with your own equipment. This is why NSA needs the telcos help.
The problem with these programs now is that they no longer target only international stuff. Due to the fact that much of the Internet backbone travels through America, they have to tap lines here at home in order to get "foreign" intelligence. This means they are scooping up the data of Americans along with everyone else.
And no, this is not new. A lot of more technically inclined people have understood this was most likely going on, especially since 911. Mark Klein broke the AT&T story (he worked for AT&T). William Binney came forward a few years ago discussing how he and his team at NSA had designed a program to allow foreign surveillance of the Internet without affecting U.S. citizens. He was basically told to go fuck himself because NSA wanted all the data. So they scraped his program and hired outside contractors to come in and design it (code word Trailblazer). It costed billions of dollars and never was completed. So he went public, was raided by the FBI, arrested, threatened, etc.
Now this latest program PRISM just appears to be a mere extension of what Trailblazer was designed to do. Those of us who have kept up with the NSA whistle-blowers like Klein and Binney are not surprised by this latest revelation at all.
Getting people to stop using windows is more or less the same as trying to get people to stop smoking tobacco products. They dont want to change; they are happy with slowly dying inside. -- munky99999
Re: In other words...
said by ArrayList: Some will, and then deposit all their worldly aspersions in Facebook or twitter or what ever the next gimmick is without recognizing the same rules and weaknesses apply.
you're nuts if you think people are deleting their google account over this.