In the wake of the revelation of PRISM last week, Google admitted that it does not include FISA requests in its transparency report -- which has led some to question the value of the transparency report. Now, Google has sent a public letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI boss Robert Mueller, requesting permission to add FISA requests to its transparency report
, suggesting that such transparency would be helpful in clearing up how frequently the government is asking Google for information.
Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.
We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.
Google appreciates that you authorized the recent disclosure of general numbers for national security letters. There have been no adverse consequences arising from their publication, and in fact more companies are receiving your approval to do so as a result of Google’s initiative. Transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security.
It would be somewhat ridiculous for the DOJ to refuse this request, but we're used to the DOJ doing stupid things these days.