Microsoft and Google may sue US government to allow them to publish user data request from the government after talks with the Justice Department stalled.
The tech giants filed suits in a US federal court in June, arguing a right to make public more information about user data requests made under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The technology giants agreed six times to extend the deadline for the government to respond to the lawsuits, the Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, wrote in a blog post.
“With the failure of our recent negotiations, we will move forward with litigation in the hope that the courts will uphold our right to speak more freely,” he posted on the blog.
“To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart,” Smith said. “But today our two companies stand together… We believe we have a clear right under the US Constitution to share more information with the public.”
“…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,” Smith said.
He argued that, along with providing numbers of requests, disclosures should provide context regarding what is being sought.
“We believe it’s possible to publish these figures in a manner that avoids putting security at risk,” Smith said.
A government that says it needs to keep secret the activities supposedly protecting us is a government that fears democracy, fears an informed public, fears the spirit of the United States Constitution.
Our government has a gag order on banks, on corporations, on service providers – our government has threatened to jail librarians for refusing to cooperate with spying on library patrons. The stink is spreading. Every attempt by the Obama administration to justify their “legalizing” of criminal practices started by Bush and Cheney deserves nothing less than contempt.
The fightback must continue.