Court Orders Google To Comply With National Security Letters, But Suggests It Might Want To Ask Again

from the mother-may-i dept

You may recall that back in April it was revealed that Google was fighting back against complying with a series of National Security Letters (NSLs), the notorious tool of law enforcement to snoop on people secretly, which has been abused widely. Google’s decision to push back on these NSLs came following a ruling by the same judge, Susan Illston, who had ruled NSLs unconstitutional. Given that ruling, it appeared that Google hoped to get the judge to say that it didn’t need to comply with 19 NSLs it had received.

Instead, Judge Illston has told Google it must comply — following secret affidavits from FBI officials. However, it appears that Judge Illston may think that Google just asked in the wrong way, and might be more willing to kill the NSLs if Google presented more specifics about the NSLs in question, rather than asking to broadly ignore NSLs in general:

It wasn’t a complete win for the Justice Department, however: Illston all but invited Google to try again, stressing that the company has only raised broad arguments, not ones “specific to the 19 NSLs at issue.” She also reserved judgment on two of the 19 NSLs, saying she wanted the government to “provide further information” prior to making a decision.

Given that, I would imagine this is nowhere near over.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Court Orders Google To Comply With National Security Letters, But Suggests It Might Want To Ask Again”

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Robert Freetard says:

If the FBI has the time to wait for the court's decision

If the FBI has the time to wait for the court’s decision why don’t they just get an actual warrant?
It’s a clear and incontestable way to get the information they want.

Unless of course they are just abusing the NSL process to gather data that they could not get a warrant for because a judge wouldent sign it.
Considering that very few warrants are ever denied, I’m guessing this is truly abuse of privilege.

out_of_the_blue says:

I'll bet this is OVER, was just a false publicity stunt.

Google is a corporation, kids, an amoral, conscienceless entity that has growth as its only goal. Its visible purpose is SPYING. Words are cheap, and if one simply doesn’t grant a presumption of honesty to Google,then it looks exactly like a secretive mega-corporation deep in conspiracy with gov’t.

Pragmatic says:

Re: I'll bet this is OVER, was just a false publicity stunt.

OOTB: “OMG conspiraciez! Communists! Aaaaagh!!11eleventyone111!”

The rest of us: “Hoo boy.”

The problem with your frothing at the mouth/argument, Blue, is that (straw man) Google can’t win, whatever they do. They’re damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. That’s why we can’t take your rantings seriously.

They don’t need to advertise themselves any more, they’re at saturation point already, so your argument is invalid.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Looks like Google is now making money off terrorism:

No, they’re not.

Hate speech isn’t “terrorism,” it’s speech. It’s bad speech, speech you don’t (and shouldn’t) like, but speech nonetheless.

And the only thing Google is doing is the same thing it does to all videos on YouTube, regardless of content.

There’s an interesting comment on that story:

The ads are automatically added to youtube videos, when you have a certain setting enabled… OR is your point that, you really think we ought to be incensed by the ads more than videos themselves? Why doesn’t the Daily Mail campaign for Google & Facebook to remove this racist hatred…Millions would back it in heartbeat!!!

The comment is right: it’s not the advertising, it’s the message. And his “solution” is censorship.

Of course, the censorship “solution” is worse for an open society than allowing people to speak, even if it’s hate speech.

But I somehow doubt you have any problem at all with censorship.

Coyote (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I, too, have an issue with free speech. It may not be something I agree with, so surely it must be taken down, despite being of no [discernible] harm to anyone at the time or recording, nor presumes a direct correlation with violent acts. It is merely ‘speech’ — speech that I do not agree with and otherwise revile, but still speech. To suggest that a singular search engine that one can look and find videos — videos which can and are hidden, or otherwise decked in the smallest of spaces of a vast network — is responsible for hosting these videos and making money off of them.

What is being used is a common campaign — youtube places ads alongside content if the content provider wishes to monetize these videos. Google, the owner of youtube [from what I recall, anyways] gets a share of that profit margin. It is a system that does not ‘just’ target hate speech or terrorism or anything of that nonsense — nonsense which still has no credible source beyond the daily mail, a hardly credible source — and is likely worthy of ridicule. Presuming this is credible at all, it is again, not terrorism, but hate speech — speech that, while it bemoans things and says ‘take down the government’ or ‘shoot Clinton in the vagina’ or what-have-you, it is, at ts’ core, speech. It says these things, but there is no action done. If there was action done — a video of a terrorist killing a civilian, blah-de-blah — then it would be unjust and wrong.

As it stands, it is not. I do not agree with it, but it does not mean it does not belong. If I were to apply my values to the values of youtube and say ‘this doesn’t belong here, you shouldn’t be monetizing it, but if it’s there I shall monetize the hell out of it.’ there would be zero videos of Bryan Fischer or anyone from the American Family Association posting their bullshit for the world to see, and an influx of cat videos.

You seem to assume it is Google’s responsibility to take down videos you do not like of what is presumed, hate speech and terrorism — the latter of which has no credible source as to whether it is terrorism or not — it is not. They also do not monetize the videos in question, though they do often put ads in the sides of the videos. The latter is done automatically, the former, through the content creator, whoever that may be.

They’re not targetting specific groups or people or terrorists to make money off of them — it is an automatic process, if you’re speaking of what I assume you are speaking of — done through a service that they have no direct control over. No direct control does not mean ‘have no control’ by the way; it means thousands upon thousands of lines of code that they cannot possibly sort through individually to find specific places to NOT place ads, some of which qualify as hate speech, but protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

You are being silly if you think this is the responsibility of a specific corporation, and not just the result of an automatic service that does not discriminate on ad placement by any means.

bakunin (user link) says:

Google lied about their approach toward evil. Or have changed their minds since?

Indeed, whenever I see folks trying to feel good about GOOG, I cringe yet again as I recall that they long got away with their motto supposedly being “Do no evil.” Their business model is not one of selfless giving {newsflash?!} So, poking about for a link or 2 to support my argument, I happen upon:

Google Moving to Help Destroy Anonymity
Google?s motto is ?Do No Evil?. And Google notes in a patent application:
When users reveal their identities on the internet, it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.
So you might assume that Google is fighting to protect anonymity on the web.
But Schmidt?s new book reveals that Google will support the destruction of anonymity (via Wall Street Journal):
Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.
Search Engine Journal explains:
[Passages from Schmidt’s book] confirm what many industry writers have been passionately clattering away about for months now. Google+ is an identity verification network. As the network continues to grow, content associated with a verified identity will rise to the top of Google search rankings.
(Google+ is now the world?s second most popular social network.)
In other words, Schmidt acknowledges (in the first quote above) that authoritarians want to destroy anonymity ? and Google will help them do so.


and if you need more convincing try

Furthermore, it seems to me unlikely their attempts at appearing Gov-defiant could be genuine when they so actively engage in censorship of views – not obscenity but just ideas which also don’t smear/slander anyone – by whatever secret starchamber process they obey. Case in point: Alex Jones’ sites with various reports (okay I have 2 big qualms with him but 70% of the time he’s a very important, impassioned advocate of the Bill of Rights.. just appeared on AM radio in my area– check yours (his 3 hours/day must be something for typical car-driving, broadcasts-beholden media consumers!)) used to come up in googl searches but they’ve basically just blacklisted them. Much the same on youtube.

ps. Apart from KPFA’s “Guns and Butter” which I’ve listened to since inception, the place from where I’ve been hearing since forever the term “National Security Letter” is the intro to a regular segment of the Peter B. Collins podcast called “Boiling Frogs”, featuring historic whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. From there, she’s gone on her own in a great way, with her Boiling Frogs Post:

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: I don't get it.

The judge ruled on 17 out of 19, and reserved judgement on only two of them, and yet the entire story seems to imply that Google could get out of all of them.

Last time I checked, 17 out 19 is pretty conclusive.

You don’t get it because you misread.

The judge suggested they could get out of all 19, not just the two she reserved judgment on.

horse with no name says:

Re: Re: I don't get it.

I think is only if Google wants to split each one seperately and try to argue and address very specific issues to each one, which may not be in their interest. Google wanted a blanket way out. Having to argue each one on it’s individual merits may not be what they want to do.

Basically, only 2 out of 19 may meet some of the more general arguments Google was making.

FM HIlton (profile) says:

"May I suggest"

It wasn’t a complete wipe out for the government-they got the judge to order Google to comply with the NSL’s, and if Google does not, they’re going to be held in contempt of a court order.

Funny how this works. “It’s unconstitutional, but until you prove to me why it is, you have to comply and reply to them.”

I wish the 9th Circuit was not in recess…as they probably are. It’s going to be a long hot summer, kids.

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