FISA Court in action: USA to Google, Facebook, Microsoft: No, you can’t tell users we’re spying on them

A motion has been filed today with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by the U.S Department of Justice. This motion is basically filed for opposing the Tech companies that want to tell users of such companies that their data is being spied by the government.

The government in its briefing to the court has said that the information is confidential and classified, and it is prohibited for the companies to disclose these facts to the users. They also added that what is being done is just for the well-being and national security of the country. The government has also said that even if the case is decided in favor of the tech companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Google, the FISA court has no authority to compel the US government to allow for more openness.

Motion Declaratory Judgement 131002

Well it is yet another chapter that has been added to the story book of PRISM and it has further clarified that the government is actually spying on the citizens’ communication data, and is probably breaking the US law. They are collecting and compiling social, mail, search and connection data from the big tech company’s platforms that are being used by the citizens. The tech companies have however denied that they have provided access to the FBI or NSA, but have acknowledged the fact that they are getting requests from authorities and are prohibited to disclose these facts.

The government till date has prohibited these companies to disclose anything to their users and is opposing such an action through the FISA court.

Despite this fact, the government still stands firm with its policy statement that the US government supports a policy of transparency with regards to their intelligence efforts. But when it comes to national security, the transparency is trumped.

“Releasing information that could induce adversaries to shift communications platforms in order to avoid surveillance would cause serious harm to the national security interests of the United States.

”Well the statement is quite illogical because even the common people are aware of the fact the database of almost every American company is accessible by the NSA, and that too without any legitimate legalities and process. The point is that the people who are the actual terrorists would already have shifted platforms.

To promote transparency, the US government says that the companies will be permitted to disclose the number of requests that are received by these companies from the national security agencies. They will also be allowed to disclose the data ranges in numbers on some periodic basis.

Google gave out a statement that the response from DOJ is disappointing.

“We’re disappointed that the Department of Justice opposed our petition for greater transparency around FISA requests for user information. We also believe more openness in the process is necessary since no one can fully see what the government has presented to the court.”

Microsoft was particularly pointed out by the government in their brief as the company which is demanding to give out more specific and grained details about the data being requested for. The company has said:

“We will continue to press for additional transparency, which is critical to understanding the facts and having an informed debate about the right balance between personal privacy and national security.”


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