Internet companies write to US government over privacy leaks

Internet companies write to US government over privacy leaks

Google, Facebook and Microsoft have asked they be able to disclose all the security requests they receive to hand over user data, in a bid to end speculation on the extent of their cooperation.

The internet giants made the move after they were named alongside six others in allowing the United States authorities direct access to their servers.

As soon as Google had released the letter, which was sent to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook followed suit.

“Google has nothing to hide,” read part of the letter sent by Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond. He added transparency will “serve the public interest without harming national security”.

The letter, also posted on the company’s official blog, asked to be allowed to report aggregate numbers of the security requests.

According to the letter the company also wants to show its compliance with the requests falls far short of claims currently circulating in the media.

Microsoft said more transparency on the security requests “would helpthe community understand and debate these important issues”.

Facebook’s general counsel Ted Ullyot has said his company wants to provide “a complete picture of the government requests we receive, and how we respond”.

The existence of the surveillance programme in question, PRISM, was revealed last week after former CIA employee Edward Snowden dropped a series of leaks to the Guardian and the Washington Post.

There is increasing pressure for the US authorities to end the practice and among the major complainers is the American Civil Liberties Union who filed a lawsuit yesterday.

A coalition of around 80 rights groups and internet companies have also launched a website carrying a letter to be sent to Congress, called StopWatching.Us.

The US has confirmed PRISM does exist and President Barack Obama supported it by saying there cannot be 100 per cent security and 100 per cent privacy without zero inconvenience.

Posted in: Policy

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