Google Outs FBI National Security Letter Requests in Annual Transparency Report
Google released new figures detailing the number of National Security Letters (NSLs) requests coming from the FBI and other agencies that request user information when conducting national security investigations.
In 2009, 2011, and 2012 there were between 1,000 and 1,999 NSL’s on user accounts, while in 2011 there were between 2,000 and 2,999 requests. Although Google did not post absolute numbers as they could reveal government investigations, they did state they’re supposed to address people’s concerns about “the increase in their use since 9/11”.
“Our users trust Google with a lot of very important data, whether it’s emails, photos, documents, posts or videos,” said Richard Salgado, Google’s law enforcement and information security legal director. “Of course, people don’t always use our services for good, and it’s important that law enforcement be able to investigate illegal activity.”
NSL requests cannot compel Google to give away email contents, search queries, or IP addresses, but they can ask for ”name, address, length of service, and local and long distance toll billing records”.
Google said all requests will be carefully analyzed so as not to completely abide by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and not divulge any information that might be considered unconstitutional.
Future annual reports are said to keep including such data as to ensure total transparency between government officials and end users.
“Starting today, we’re now including data about NSLs in our Transparency Report,” said Salgado. “We’re thankful to U.S. government officials for working with us to provide greater insight into the use of NSLs.”