One of Google's attorneys says the tech giant fought all gag orders from the government that prevented it from telling users their e-mails or other data were being sought by the U.S. in a long-running investigation of WikiLeaks.
Google claims to have challenged the government's secrecy orders on the search warrants from the start, and was only permitted by law to notify users when those orders were partly lifted, according to Perkins Coie partner Albert Gidari.
"From January 2011 to the present, Google has continued to fight to lift the gag orders on any legal process it has received on WikiLeaks," he told the Washington Post. Perkins Coie's policy is to challenge all gag orders with indefinite time periods.
The tech firm's challenges date to January 2011 and include an attempt to overturn gag orders accompanying search warrants issued in March 2012 for the e-mails of three WikiLeaks staff members, the attorney, Albert Gidari, said in an interview.
Google's long battle to inform its customers about the warrants and court orders has been fought largely in secret because of the court-imposed gags, hampering its effort to counter the impression that it has not stood up for users' privacy, Gidari said.
In the latest instance, the three WikiLeaks staff members revealed this week that Google notified them on Dec. 23 that their e-mails were the subject of search warrants — almost three years after the broad warrants were issued by a magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.
"We are astonished and disturbed that Google waited over two and a half years to notify its subscribers," Michael Ratner, an attorney for the staff members, wrote in a letter Monday to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.
"Google says it fought gag orders in WikiLeaks investigation" [washingtonpost.com via @FreedomofPress]