Google Publishes FBI Surveillance Orders To Earn Users’ Trust

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Google regularly receives National Security Letters (NSL) from the U.S. government seeking data from certain users, and the tech company published eight of those requests Tuesday.

“In our continued effort to increase transparency around government demands for user data, today we begin to make available to the public the National Security Letters (NSLs) we have received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of nondisclosure obligations,” Google Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security Richard Salgado said in an official blog post.

In what is known as a gag order, law enforcement agencies often don’t permit companies and organizations to disclose the petitioned information because they contend it could hamper their investigations.

FBI offices across the country sent the eight NSLs to Google from 2010-2015.

But there are many more that are not released. The federal government submitted a record number of data requests for personal information of Google users in the second half of 2015.

“While we are encouraged by this development, we will remain vigilant in opposing legislation that would significantly expand the universe of information that can be obtained with an NSL,” Salgado concludes in the statement.

In September, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice arguing that it is unconstitutional to seize computer data from third parties and subsequently issued gag orders so companies could not notify customers. Google joined Microsoft in its litigation by signing an amicus brief along with a number of other institutions, advocacy groups and businesses.

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