Google to Attorney General: let us publish stats on the info we give to spies

Google has sent the US Attorney General a letter asking for permission to publish aggregate statistics on the number of gag-ordered-FISA requests it gets. These requests are secret and not included in Google's "Transparency Report" of government requests.

We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.

Google appreciates that you authorized the recent disclosure of general numbers for national security letters. There have been no adverse consequences arising from their publication, and in fact more companies are receiving your approval to do so as a result of Google’s initiative. Transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security.

Asking the U.S. government to allow Google to publish more national security request data


  1. Is it still considered civil disobedience if the order you’re disobeying is unconstitutional?

  2. The statement “Google has nothing to hide” is simply untrue. If Google has nothing to hide then why does it have to ask the government permission to tell the truth? Compliance with any FISA request, by definition requires you to HIDE all information about that request and does not allow Google to even acknowledge the existence of, or its participation in such requests.

    The facts are simple: the only way Google can offer any proof that it does not provide a back door is if all FISA requests and the program itself are declassified, or if Barack Obama himself states in no uncertain terms that these back doors do not exist.

    Aggregate numbers of specific secret requests tell us nothing whatsoever.

    Your move Google.

    1. Huh?

      How is it Google’s move if, as you say, the only way to prove it has no NSA back doors is for all FISA requests and the PRISM program are declassified, or for the President to state there are no back doors? Both are actions that only the Executive can take. What’s Google’s move meant to be?

      1. Thats really up to their imagination I guess. This is their first attempt to try and spin the situation and put the ball in someone else’s court and I’m sure its already well on its way back to them.

        It goes one of two ways, either the NSA was lying to the government (and its staff) about its capabilities which is very plausible, or the claims in that document are true in which case full disclosure would most certainly not be in Google’s best interest.

      2. Also, if there are back doors, the president would most certainly not lie about it as that would be grounds for impeachment if anybody had evidence…

        I doubt he is stupid enough to hand his balls over to the NSA.

  3. This is simply Google attempting to turn a PR nightmare into a feature.

    Disingenuous if you ask me.

    1. What else can they do? 

      Wait this is GOOGLE. Same guys that managed to stalemate china.

      They have the sort of power only governments have. they should be doing something. What i don’t know becausei don’t know what’s realistically possible.

  4. Didn’t we just find out that the NSA has back door access to all of Google’s data?  What does Google showing how many FISA orders it has complied with have to do with the current situation?  
    This is a red herring. 
    Google isn’t handing anything over upon request to the NSA, all data is already readily available.
    FISA requests are for those who do not already have access to the NSA collection.

    1. This all depends on how all the information is gathered and processed. If there is a back door I’m sure that each QUERY thats passed through it would generate a record which would then be reported as a FISA request.

      They need the paperwork to back up the requests otherwise it IS illegal, even under these crazy secret laws.

      Also, it would be a good idea to keep track of WHO HAS WHAT in case someone decided to defect to Hong Kong or something…

  5. I suggest that all Americans get together on July 4th and create millions of e-mails, texts and Facebook posts all reading “Happy 4th of July, Mr. President! (NSA please forward.)”

    1. We can do better than that.  If we can each send the NSA a billion data packets on July 4th, that would equal approximately 300 quadrillion packets.  You catch my drift, right? They want data, I say SEND THEM ALL THE DATA.

      1.  Then we’d be surrendering the high ground.  The idea is not to take down the NSA but to point out that the NSA is taking us down.

  6. Google just wants to publish meta-data.  The NSA shouldn’t have an expectation of privacy with respect to meta-data, should it?

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