DOJ, tech giants come to terms on data request sharing

Summary:The leaders up at the top of the government and Silicon Valley might have come to at least one understanding, but will it calm Internet users at all?


The federal government and some of Silicon Valley's biggest names have hatched at least one new agreement, following President Obama's recent unveiling of reforms on the way for the National Security Agency.

Since the revelations about the NSA's surveillance methods started pouring out last June, tech giants have been quick to distance themselves as willing accomplices.

One of the increasingly utilized methods has been to publish ( or at least promise to publish ) transparency reports about requests for data from government and law enforcement agencies.

Google has been doing this for awhile now , while some others (such as Yahoo , Verizon , and Facebook , among others) have published their first.

But anyone reading these reports have noticed at least one common thread: there's still a lot behind held back.

This varies from country to country where these corporations do business.

In the United States, tech companies have had some stringent guidelines, starting with offering more approximate guidance versus just offering a base range of "0-1,000," as an example .

However, those transparency reports might be beefed up the next time around based on a report from the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

According to the report, the companies involved (Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, LinkedIn and Yahoo) will be able to reveal more "aggregate data" about the government requests.

The deal between these companies and the U.S. Department of Justice is said to be still pending as it requires approval from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge.

Internet users shouldn't expect any exact details, and it's unclear how pleasing or reassuring these new measures might be at all.

Some of the proposed resolutions are said to include "specific number ranges, in increments of 250 requests," -- albeit with the possible caveat that companies would need to consolidate categories, likely to cloak the nature of some requests for various reasons.

The DOJ followed up with a more detailed memo on Monday:

USDOJ: Joint Statement Re: Transparency Reports

Topics: Government, Data Management, Legal, Security, Tech Industry


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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