Tech Companies: FISA Reporting Needs More Work

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Former National Security Agent Edward Snowden’s information surveillance revelations brought with it an understandably strong reaction from technology companies. Back when the Snowden scandals first hit and public interest in government privacy violations started to draw attention, companies were quick to recognize the adverse affects these concerns could have on their business interests. As a result, companies addressed the white house with a top executive meeting with President Barack Obama.

Following his recent speech, some changes — although opinion is split on whether or not there are enough — are being made to NSA programs. Companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and others filed a petition in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court demanding that companies be allowed to publish the number of requests for data they receive from government intelligence under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — also known as FISA. According to Boston.com, the companies are only allowed to show how many requests they are sent every six months, and then the report must be in estimates of thousands — next, the information must once again be hidden after the time for reporting is up.

Now, Google and other big tech companies including Microsoft, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), and Tumblr have published reports on the changes, both releasing details of their government request history, and noting the ways in which government is still restricting the flow of information, only allowing them to release ranges of data requests, rather than specific information.

“Last year, we filed a lawsuit asking the FISA Court to let us disclose the number of FISA requests we may receive and how many users/accounts they include,” reads a Google press release on the matter, written by Richard Salgado, the Legal Director at Google.

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