US tech companies may disclose numbers of data requests

The US government allows internet and other tech companies to disclose numbers of requests they receive from, among others, the NSA. In return, the tech companies will stop lawsuits against the government over greater transparency.

Companies may release the numbers of secret queries based on the FISA, but it is not about precise numbers: only series from 0 to 999 may be published. In addition, the tech companies are allowed to count the FISA requests as part of other requests, without giving details.

This is a preliminary decision that still has to be approved by the FISA court. In this way, the American government is at least partly fulfilling President Obama’s promise about more openness. The companies that have filed lawsuits against the American state to enforce more transparency, such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn, are positive about the move.

“We started our lawsuits because we believe the public has a right to know the numbers and types of national security inquiries we receive,” the joint companies said in a statement. It is a positive step and we urge Congress to take more steps to implement more reforms.”

Civil rights movement Electronic Frontier Foundation calls the decision to CNet “a small crack in the wall of secrecy.” The organization points out that companies are not allowed to provide details and can only publish ‘vague numerical series’.