Facebook and Yahoo ask court to allow them to publish data

Google had previously made a similar request regarding the release of national-security data

Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. are asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow them to release the details about the national security orders the government gives them. Google Inc. had previously filed a similar request.

The companies said in their petition that they want approval to release aggregate data when requested under national-security laws. Currently, companies are not allowed to “break out the number of requests they get for user data under national security statutes, as opposed to inquiries by law enforcement,” Bloomberg reports.

These requests by companies, which also include Microsoft Corp., come in the wake of the controversy surrounding Edward Snowden, a computer specialist who leaked details of several top-secret U.S. and British government mass surveillance  programs to the press. These companies would like greater latitude in disclosing the types of requests for user-data it gets from the government in an effort to “be as transparent as possible,” the request said.

“These news reports have raised serious concerns among people around the world who use Facebook and the public at large about the Internet surveillance activities of the U.S. government and the responses of providers who may receive orders issued by this court,” Chris Sonderby and Carl Nichols, attorneys for Facebook, wrote in the complaint.

Facebook’s GC Colin Stretch underscored the point in a Facebook blog post. “We believe that while governments have an important responsibility to keep people safe, it is possible to do so while also being transparent,” Stretch said.

The other companies involved made similar arguments in their requests.

For more about this story on Bloomberg.

Contributing Author

Cathleen Flahardy

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