Google, Facebook, LinkedIn jump to update Transparency Report data

Google asserts that it will be at liberty to divulge about all of the kinds of data requests it receives from U.S. legal and government agencies for the first time ever.


Google's Transparency Report is about to get even more transparent.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation announced that for the first time ever it will be at liberty to divulge about all of the kinds of data requests it receives from U.S. legal and government agencies.

The changes and additions to Google's routine Transparency Report process follows an agreement hatched last week between the U.S. Department of Justice and a handful of tech giants. Aside from Google, that pool included Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, LinkedIn and Yahoo.

Richard Salgado, legal director for law enforcement and information security at Google, explained further in a blog post on Monday morning that the Internet giant had filed a lawsuit last year, demanding to be able to disclose the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests it received as well as stats about inquiries into specific users and accounts.

Up until now, Salgado continued, demands about those requests (as well as information about National Security Letters) had been excluded from the Transparency Report.

Specifically, we want to disclose the precise numbers and types of requests we receive, as well as the number of users they affect in a timely way. That’s why we need Congress to go another step further and pass legislation (PDF) that will enable us to say more.

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 just published their first.

Facebook and LinkedIn issued similar updates on Monday, updating previously published figures for different time intervals during 2013.

However, as demonstrated in all of these cases, the tech companies are still limited to providing just ranges beginning with zero and extending to the potential hundreds or thousands, rather than offering specific tallies.


Screenshots via Google, Facebook