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Facebook, Google reportedly in talks with US government to reveal secret data requests

Facebook, Google reportedly in talks with US government to reveal secret data requests

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Facebook is reportedly in talks with the federal government to allow it and other web companies to disclose basic information about data requests that would normally be kept secret under national security laws, according to All Things D. If successful, Facebook and other companies would apparently be given wider permission to publish details about sensitive requests — such as those that fall under FISA — including how many requests were made and granted, and how much information was handed over. Just this Tuesday, Google penned an open letter to the attorney general and the director of the FBI to make the very same request.

The tech giants need to save face

ATD caveats that the negotiations may not go anywhere due to the issue's sensitivity, but they do believe the discussions are being taken seriously. It's unclear if other parties are involved in the talks, however ATD specifically notes that Google — despite its common interest — is not a participant.

Should Facebook manage to push the government into allowing for more transparency in data requests, it and the other web giants that appeared on the PRISM slides may be able to save some face moving forward. Like Google's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg himself has publicly called on the government to allow for more transparency when it comes to data colleciton. And while some companies have chosen to publish "transparency reports" to give their users an understanding of how they handle data requests, as was revealed last week, those reports don't include large swathes of data that are barred from disclosure.

Update: AllThingsD now reports that in addition to Facebook, the government has also been in talks with Google to make FISA requests more transparent to the public. Sources say that the talks have reached an advanced level, though there is still the chance that nothing will come of them.