US, Internet Giants Cut Deal on Data Disclosure

Companies can say how often they give up your information
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 27, 2014 4:05 PM CST
This July 16, 2013 file photo shows a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
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(Newser) – The government and leading Internet companies today announced a compromise that will allow those companies to reveal more information about how often they are ordered to turn over customer information to the government in national security investigations. The Justice Department reached agreements with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn that would resolve those companies' legal challenges before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The companies had asked judges to allow them to disclose data on national security orders the companies have received under FISA.

Under today's compromise, Internet companies will be able to release more information, but still only in very general terms when it comes to national security investigations. They can report:

  • the number of criminal-related orders from the government
  • rounded to the nearest thousand, the number of secret national security-related orders from government investigators, the number of national security-related orders from the FISA court, and the number of customers affected by both.
The five companies welcomed the deal, but said more needs to be done. "We filed our lawsuits because we believe that the public has a right to know about the volume and types of national security requests we receive," the companies said in a joint statement. (Read more Internet stories.)

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