Google And Microsoft To Sue US Government Over Surveillance Transparency

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

They might not get on usually, but Google and Microsoft have joined forces to fight the US government over transparency around data requests

Putting their many differences aside, Google and Microsoft have joined forces to sue the US government, as the pair are desperate to clear their name over alleged collusion with American spooks.

In particular, they remain concerned they have not been allowed to talk about data requests made by US intelligence under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), claiming it breaches their freedom of speech.

surveillance cyber crimeGoogle and Microsoft fight Obama regime

Both Google and Microsoft filed a suit in June suing the government for the right to speak about surveillance requests. The companies delayed the action to give the Department of Justice government time to reply to the lawsuit. Now Microsoft says that the response from the US administration fell short, and the lawsuit will go ahead.

“Yesterday, the Government announced that it would begin publishing the total number of national security requests for customer data for the past 12 months and do so going forward once a year. The Government’s decision represents a good start. But the public deserves and the Constitution guarantees more than this first step,” said Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president for legal and corporate affairs for Microsoft, in a blog post on Friday.

“We believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email.

“These figures should be published in a form that is distinct from the number of demands that capture only metadata such as the subscriber information associated with a particular email address.  We believe it’s possible to publish these figures in a manner that avoids putting security at risk.”

The tech titans hope a court will let them speak more freely. “We hope Congress will continue to press for the right of technology companies to disclose relevant information in an appropriate way.”

Various tech companies were lambasted for their apparent involvement in the PRISM project managed by the National Security Agency, as revealed by the leaks of Edward Snowden.

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