Google Ordered To Comply With FBI Data Demands

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

The same judge who ruled National Security Letters were unconstitutional says Google should comply by them

Google has been told to pass over users’ private information to the FBI by the same judge who said two months ago that national security letters (NSLs) should not be used to get hold of data from companies.

NSLs are used by law enforcement in their application of the US Patriot Act, as they seek to gain citizens’ private data to help with their investigations. But in March, judge Susan Illston said the NSLs contravened the first amendment of the US constitution.

google-london-officeThe decision came after an unnamed telecommunications company, believed to be San Francisco-based firm Credo Mobile, protested an NSL. The company was represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which hailed the decision as a significant moment in the fight for privacy.

FBI demands constitutional again?

But now judge Illston has rejected a Google argument that NSLs violated its constitutional rights, according to the Associated Press. It is unclear what data the FBI wants.

The final ruling has not yet been handed down, as the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals makes its decision, although Google has been told to hand over data until then, unless it can prove the FBI did not follow proper procedures.

Illston said 17 of the 19 letters were issued correctly, however. Privacy advocates have expressed their disappointment at the decision.

“We are disappointed that the same judge who declared these letters unconstitutional is now requiring compliance with them,” said Kurt Opsah, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a statement sent to media.

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