In the wake of recent revelations regarding PRISM and the NSA, and alleged “back doors” that the government uses to gain direct access to servers from private companies, Google has now asked the government in an open letter to allow it to be more transparent.
To be sure, in spite of what the leaks surrounding PRISM revealed, Google and other companies like Facebook were quick to deny the existence of any back doors to their servers. Google stated last Friday that “we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process.”
Google didn’t really say anything new here – it has always said that it has a review process in place to make sure that all government requests for information follow established protocol and legal precedent, and it even publishes a transparency report in which Google discloses:
- Real-time and historical traffic to Google services around the world;
- Numbers of removal requests we receive from copyright owners or governments;
- Numbers of user data requests we receive from government agencies and courts.
Still, Google is oftentimes restricted from disclosing the number and type of requests it receives from the FBI, or requests for information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Since Google says it values its users’ trust, it is requesting that the government allow it to report the number of all requests it receives:
Google has nothing to hide. Transparency here will … serve the public interest without harming national security.
I, for one, am pleased to see Google publicly and openly request more transparency from the government. National security won’t be threatened with simple honesty from the government, and disclosures such as these will help preserve a system of checks and balances that works to prevent abuse of power in the future.
What do you think?
The full text of the letter can be found at the source link below.[Google]