Judge orders Google to comply with FBI national security investigation

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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A federal judge in California ordered Google to comply with an FBI national security investigation after the search giant launched a protest against the bureau’s request.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston rejected Google’s petition to modify or throw out 19 national security letters (NSL) related to federal government investigations due to the broad nature of the petition, CNET reported Friday.

“Her ruling came after a pair of top FBI officials, including an assistant director, submitted classified affidavits,” CNET reported, stating that Illston reserved judgement on two of the 19 letters and requested more information from the government.

NSLs allow federal officials to secretly gather electronic data on a suspect without a warrant or court approval.

Google launched its protest of the FBI’s request at the end of March, citing concerns over the secrecy requirements of the requests.

That same month, Illston ruled that the letters accompanied by nondisclosure requirements were unconstitutional.

In March, through its transparency report, the search giant began sharing general information about the number of NSL requests it gets from the FBI.

Google reported that it received 0 – 999 NSLs from the FBI in 2012, affecting 1000 – 1999 user accounts, which still doesn’t tell the public a lot.

An April 30 letter from the Department to Justice Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office said that the FBI made 15,229 requests in 2012 to send NSLs.

Those requests affected “6,233 different United States persons.”

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