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Google to DOJ: 'Let us publish FISA request data'

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google transparency report 1020
google transparency report 1020

Despite recent leaks, Google still hasn't given up on transparency. In an open letter to attorney general Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller, the company's chief legal officer David Drummond petitioned for permission to include aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures like the Verizon order that was leaked on Thursday. The company is currently bound by government nondisclosure agreements, but these could be lifted by the FBI and Department of Justice working in concert. If Google's request is granted, the new transparency reports would include the aggregate number of national security requests, but might not provide insight into the full quantity of data involved. As the Verizon order made clear, a single request can cover anything from a lone email to three months' worth of phone records for an entire network.

Google has come under fire for their participation in NSA and FBI data-mining, but the company has maintained the accusations are overblown. According to Drummond, like the existing transparency reports on national security letters, "transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security."

Drummond didn't back down from earlier denials about the extent of Google's participation in NSA surveillance, but asserted the national security request numbers, once published, would bear out the company's claims. "Google's numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made," Drummond said. "Google has nothing to hide."

Update: CEO Larry Page has joined in, citing the letter on his personal Google+ account.